Edgar: Too Good for His Own Good?

In King Lear, it is hard to find a more honorable character than Edgar. Edgar, being Gloucester’s only legitimate son, had the ability to ignore his brother when he advised him to flee. But, like the good brother he was, he listened to the “illegitimate” Edmund. Edgar’s loyalty and trust were vital to the development of the plot of King Lear.

Edmund’s plan to gain power began with overthrowing his family. Edmund knew that he wouldn’t inherit anything from his father, since he wasn’t “pure” in blood. Edmund needed to somehow gain his brothers status. To do so, Edmund used Edgar’s loyalty against him. He convinced Edgar that he was banished, and turned his father against his brother. Edmund then had the power and influence to begin his attempted claim that lead him to contribute to the tragedy of King Lear. Without Edgar, Edmund would never have gotten past his father.

If another character was in Edgar’s shoes, such as Lear, Edmund would have never been trusted. Edgar is both a good character and a good person. He has the ability to look past the fact that his brother isn’t completely related to him, something many others could not look past at the time.

While Edgar’s banishment and his transformation into Poor Tom feel unjust at the time, Edgar gets his revenge at the end of the play when he takes down Edmund as the honorable Edgar. Most deaths at the end of the play feel justified, except for the death of Cordelia. As a reader, I was happy that besides Kent, at least one likeable character remained well at the end of the play. I liked that even while Edgar’s trust and devotion to his family almost cost him his life, he gets the revenge he is looking for.

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