Essay on King Lear, By William Shakespeare

Essay on King Lear, By William Shakespeare

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Absolute in every child’s mind is the belief that they are right, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Until children grow up to raise children own their own, a parent’s disputation only inflates that desire to prove. Part and parcel to this, as one may find out through personal experience or by extension, cruelty towards parents is a reflection of a child’s own inadequacy (whether in large or small scale). In this sense, King Lear is a story of children with a desire to break past their hierarchal status. Whether it is the belief that a woman shall take a husband, and with that guard her inherited land, or what role bastards truly deserves in a society that preemptively condemns them. Cruelty at the hands of children accounts for almost all of the tragedy in King Lear, and central to Edmund’s betrayal of Gloucester, in particular, is the notion of bastardy. Gloucester’s disregard for the natural bond of family, as well as his contentment with this notion, alienates the illegitimate Edmund; and although Edmund committed terrible actions throughout the play—resulting in his own death—a cure or resolution to the notion of bastardy is not apparent, apart from a larger shift in society’s value of the illegitimate.
Edmund’s insistence to unravel his familial bonds is closely tied to Gloucester and much of society’s sense of contentment with the notion of bastardy at the time. Central to the tragedy in King Lear, what is meant to be a bastard at that time is introduced within the first few lines of the play. Although Gloucester insists that Edgar is “no dearer in [his] account,” he uses jocular and rather vulgar language when referring to Edmund; terms such as “whoreson” alienate the bastard Edmund and lend to his desire for reven...


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...loquy asserts that by using astrological terminology to contrast Edmund’s forceful desire to shape his own destiny.
Edmund was shaped entirely by the notion of bastardy in King Lear. It tainted his familial bonds and gave him a sense of determination to escape society’s value of him. The notion of bastardy drives this aspect of the plot and is the single most important idea when looking into the phenomenon of cruelty between Edmund and Gloucester in King Lear. Edmund’s story is tragic because there is no resolution for his biggest grievance apart from a larger paradigm shift, marking a change in society’s value of the bastard. It is safe to say that Edmund and Gloucester’s relationship was plagued by powers greater than themselves. Shakespeare elevates their relationship to start a dialogue about family and societal values—creating a deeply layered and tragic story.

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