Edmund is not evil

One of my favorite characters in King Lear was Edmund. Although he was one of the main antagonists in the play, there was a depth about his character that intrigued me. Edmund had grown up feeling illegitimate as a bastard and was part of his family but was also not a part of it. This caused a lot of confusion for Edmund and led to a lot of jealousy towards his brother. He became the villain as he tried to scheme and manipulate in order to gain power. But, unlike usual villains that are just straight out evil, Edward just wanted to fit in. He had always been treated differently and as less than his brother or any of the other “legitimate” sons. A theme throughout the play was power and how it can be obsessive and cause one to lose sight of what truly matters. Many characters like King Lear himself, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund, all began to lose sight of themselves and fell into the dangerous trap of power. What makes me sympathize the most with Edmund is that he had grown up without any power. He had been treated inferiorly and less than because of society’s views. Over time, this took a toll on him and he became this antagonist we see in many other pieces of literature that schemes and commits crimes in order to feed their selfish needs. But unlike Goneril and Regan, Edmund had strived for this power because he never had any, he was never treated as an equal, and he wanted to make a change in order to be seen as legitimate and worthy,

5 thoughts on “Edmund is not evil

  1. Sitota B.

    I had never really thought about Edmund in this light. It’s really easy to just see Edmund as an evil person in this novel and don’t get me wrong, he did a lot of terrible things. However, It’s easy to forget why Edmund is doing all of this. Why he tricks his father and brother ultimately to a life of pain and death. Why he goes on the side of the two sisters. It must have been really hard to go all of your life known as lesser than others because you are from another mother. There has to be a lot of built up anger and frustration.


  2. Olivia M

    I really agree with what Sitota said about how it’s really easy to just picture Edmund as an antagonist with no regard to how he got there. I definitely still see Edmund as an antagonist but reading your comparison of Edmund to other characters like Lear, Regan, and Goneril did make me reconsider how I think of him in the context of the whole play, which makes it easier to understand his motivations.


  3. OWEN C

    I was also thinking the same thing while watching Edmund fall down his dark path. Growing up with nothing while everyone has all this natural power drives Edmund to do whatever he can to achieve the power he wants. I think people forget that characters have more than just one perspective often.


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