Edmund>Edgar Discuss (60marks)
The central characters in the play tend towards extremes of good or evil and consequently may seem one dimensional and sometimes lacking in credibility. However, evil of its very nature is more interesting and certainly more unpredictable than good. While Edgar is a hugely admirable character who redeems his father and helps to restore the natural order, he is not nearly as intriguing as his evil counterpart Edmund. Edmund fascinates us because of the sheer depth of his cruelty, but also his humanity.
From their very first scenes, we can see that Edgar and Edmund have different backgrounds. Although they have the same father and were raised in the same place, Edmund’s circumstances are far less favourable. He was born illegitimate, unlike the rest of the characters in the play, which certainly makes him stand out from the rest. He cannot inherit any land, and he curses society for placing him at the bottom of the social ladder, even though he is just as fit and capable as Edgar, if not more so, “why 'bastard'? Wherefore 'base,' when my dimensions are as well compact, my mind as generous and my shape as true as honest madam's issue?” Even Edmund’s back story is more intriguing than Edgar’s, and thus his motives for the rest of the play are as well, as opposed to Edgar’s predictable quest for good. Edmund is determined to escape his hardship and change the structure of society, whereas Edgar wants everything to remain the same
It is evident that Edmund is a very manipulative and intelligent man. He is able to deceive everyone whom he comes into contact with, using them as pawns in his quest to climb the social and political ladder, “Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit.” Although Edgar is noble, kind and somewhat clever, he is also gullible, the intellectually inferior of the two brothers. He puts too much trust in Edmund and is fooled by his master plan, “a brother noble, whose nature is so far from doing harms that he suspects none.” Edmund’s intellectual superiority makes him a far more attractive character to the audience and to me personally. I admire his wit and I think that Edgar’s foolishness contributes to his dull image. Edmund uses his intelligence and his attractiveness to manipulate many other characters in the play. He forges a letter from Edgar and feigns horror when showing it to his father, revealing fake plans for his assassination,
”I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or taste of my virtue.” His father Gloucester immediately falls for this trick, and thus Edmund’s competition for the Earl position is eliminated. Edmund also seduces Goneril and Regan to gain the position of King, successfully deceiving the most devious characters in the play. Edgar,...