Throughout King Lear, Edmund, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Gloucester, is the main antagonist who tries to unravel his family and the rest of the kingdom in order to gain power. But Edmund is not entirely at fault for this. Edmund is mistreated by his father on numerous occasions throughout the play. In act 1 scene he is publicly referred to as a “Knave” and a “Whoreson”, on top of the fact that he is not able to receive any inheritance from his father.
While Edmunds actions in the last act of the play cannot be dismissed in any way shape or form, it is not his fault for being in that situation. Due to the constant humiliation and lack of upward mobility in the kingdom it is only natural for Edmund to try and work around the “Laws” to better himself. Edmund has no other choice but to be deceitful in his attempt to gain power. However the same cannot be said for, his father, Gloucester. All of Edmund’s problems stem from Gloucester, and all of these problems could be avoided.
First of all Edmund being illegitimate, a bastard, born out of wedlock, etc is not his fault at all. It was due to Gloucester’s unfaithful actions that Edmund was born a bastard, so why should Edmund have to live with the consequences of something that he cannot control.
Secondly Edmund’s treatment is what prompted him to commit crimes and undermine his father. Edmund did not choose to be treated this way, but Gloucester chose to treat him poorly.
Since Gloucester brought about these circumstances (which could have been easily avoided), some blame can reasonably be shifted away from Edmund and onto Gloucester. While this does not excuse edmunds treasonous actions against Lear and Cordelia, not all of the blame should be on Edmund.