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Essay On Edgar's Role In King Lear, Act 3, Scene 4

855 words - 3 pages

Edgar's role in King Lear, Act 3, Scene 4

In Act 3, Scene 4, Edgar takes on the roles of a madman, and a spirit. In counterfeiting madness, he not only hides from an unjust death, but also serves as a character that resembles King Lear: (1) Both are deceived by family; (2) Both are outcasts of Gloucester's castle; (3) Both are threatened with death; and (4) Both enter into a form of madness. But, whereas King Lear actually becomes mad, Edgar only feigns madness. As Edgar takes the role of a "spirit" (3.4.39), he reveals: (1) Edmund's moral condition, by prescribing moral laws that he will break (3.4.80-83); and (2) that Gloucester will be blinded by Edmund (3.4.117). This essay will begin by examining how Edgar's role, as an outcast feigning madness, resembles the life and fate of King Lear, and then will show how his role as a spirit, reveals future events that will come to pass.

Edgar's role, as an outcast and madman, corresponds to King Lear in four ways: (1) they both are deceived by family. Edgar is deceived by his half brother, and King Lear is deceived by two of his daughters. Edgar babbles about how Edmund deceived him: "Who gives anything to Poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame" (3.4.51-52), and reveals his plan "to kill [the] vermin" (3.4.51-52). And by calling Edmund a "foul fiend" who had "course[d] his own shadow for a traitor" (3.4.57-58), he parallels Edmund with a devil, which is trying to make him commit suicide by laying "knives under his pillow" (3.4.54). And because King Lear's madness begins to be revealed after realizing that he'd been fooled by his daughters (2.4.273-286), he asks Edgar if he became mad due to daughters too (3.4.49-50). (2) They both are outcasts of Gloucester's castle. Edgar is banished because of Edmund's lies (2.1.14-32), and the King is shut out for upsetting Regan and Goneril (2.4.296-310). (3) They both are threatened with death. Gloucester tells Kent that Regan and Goneril "seek his [the King's] death" (3.4.163) and Edmund tells Edgar that his life is in danger (2.1.14-32). (4) They both enter into a form of madness. Edgar pretends to be mad after his exile, which is shown in Act 3, Scene 4; while the King's madness grows throughout the play. Thus Edgar's role in this scene as an outcast, and feigned madman, strongly parallels the life and...

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