Edgar in King Lear
“The Worst of King Lear.” Critical Insights King Lear, Salem Press, 2012, pp. 297-311. Goldman discuss about the worst things happened in the play for different people; Edgar is usually not presented on stage the way it should be is because it will be difficult for the Lear actor to make contrast with him and stress the suffering. In King Lear, audience are made to accompany the characters and feel the misery they bear. However, the misery and punishing aspect of the play can be easily underemphasized by audience in readings as well in productions. In theater, people have been searched new ways for presenting this easier. Goldman disagrees with Kott and Brook’s interpretation that suffering of King Lear is planed down to affectlessness. He believes that affectlessness is the worst pain.
King Lear is designed to confront torture and make audience aware of their desire to escape. There are many production has missed the presentation of Edgar. He uses the evidence from the book to demonstrate the correct Edgar: nearly naked, grotesque, gives a great impression that life can deform people to be like Edgar at any point. One of the reasons why Edgar is seldomly played this way is because it would make everything hard for the actor to play Lear. The whole play wants the audience to recognize the meaning of suffering.
How it works
Edgar is forced to realize there can be worse thing happening after the worst things happened. In Hamlet, the worst thing happens in various ways. However in King Lear, the worst thing happens in the similar way. The play also has competitions and repetitions everywhere. Edgar and Lear competes for nakedness and madness. The end of the play where Cordelia dies is also hard for actors presenting Lear. The shocking ending is also unacceptable for Kent. Cordelia has accomplished her mission before she dies, but Kent didn’t. He wants to reveal his identity to Lear before Lear dies. Kent tries to make the recognition dramatic and make a theatrical surprise. However, Lear failed to react has he expected.
The play is designed for audience to feel the worst they can have. To be good is to be suffering. Bad things happens when they are different from nature. The beginning of the play when Cordelia has said “nothing” is the worst for Lear because has come to nothing. By the end of the play, the three survivors only try to sustain themselves. Albany tries and fails to be the leader, but Edgar sees something different from him. Cordelia thinks the relation between her and her father is a bond, but it also sets a limit. Her bond breaks after her rejection and later Lear went to a point where he uses nature force to destroy every bond. The audience should feel tortures and shocks after watching the play. Pain remains, but the experience of character and their bonds remains as well.
In this source the thesis is not presented clearly in the passage and the focus of the paragraphs jumps from one to another. In the beginning it starts with the stage production but jumps to the worst part of King Lear without a smooth transition. More evidence is needed especially the last page. The passage talks about different thing without a logic outline that could be seen. A conclusion is needed to summarize the whole idea. The claim from last paragraph feels like coming from nowhere. The passage talks about repetition and competition in the play to make the audience feel the worst. Also the claim that bond is broken between Cordelia and Lear is the worst to Lear and nothing is worse than it is a new perspective to view it. Usually most people think about the last two acts of the play as the worst part. Goldman needs to outline the thesis and the sub-viewpoints better comparing with Maclean’s essay.
Maclean, Hugh. “Disguise in King Lear: Kent and Edgar.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 11, no.1, 1960, pp.49-54. Maclean suggests that in King Lear, Edgar represents model’s way of life and Kent represents a imperfect imitation way of life; their disguises are set to emphasis this contrast. In the book, the world is full of bad and evil. It indicts prosperity and needs a character to help achieve a reformation after going through this evil world. Goneril and Regan represents extreme badness and Cordelia presents a sainted character. This person should be able to keep his faith, recognize the need and have correct action at correct time. In the three survivors of the play, Albany only sees the seeming of things and doesn’t have calm command. Edgar and Kent both disguise themselves, but their purpose of disguise, how they use disguise, and their results caused by disguise are in great comparison.
Edgar’s purposes of disguise are consistent with each other and is part of his continuous plan of action. Kent’s purpose is more toward serving and being loyal to his master and shoring up his ruin. Edgar understands the usage of disguise by knowing when to step out and is not lured by three temptations during his disguise. Kent is lured by the three temptations and only depends on time while he disguises himself. Edgar knows how to control the usage of disguise and never loses his mastery of it. However, Kent gradually loses his control over disguise and let disguise be the mastery of him.
Their results of disguise are different as well. Edgar grows during this experience and becomes a wise, patient, active man who is able to rule the realm. Even though Kent is also honored, his disguise doesn’t plays a big role. He doesn’t keep Lear safe and didn’t contribute anything to the reunit of Lear and Cordelia. Edgar is a master of disguising himself, but Kent doesn’t uses disguise very well.
This essay has clearly demonstrate the difference between Kent and Edgar’s disguise. It reasons out the three part logically and the thesis is also clearly expressed in the beginning. The author uses many citations from the book and other critical’s words and phrases to make his point more diverse. However, the author uses one-third part in his essay to introduce his idea and other people’s thoughts. Even though the thesis is stated in the first page, the discussion about Lear’s three daughters makes reader a bit lost the point. There are also some places that needs more evidence to support. For example, on page 51, the author states that “Kent refers more than once to some mysterious ‘intent’”. It will be much better if there are some citations from the text about his reference. This is an essay with well logic but more evidence is needed at some places to support it. MaClean reasons better than Goldman and gives a clear logic about his point.
Peck, Russell. “Edgar’s pilgrimage: High Comedy in King Lear.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. Vol.7. No.2. 1967, pp. 219-237. Peck demonstrate that Edgar can be viewed as the second most important character in the play because of his comic pilgrimage. Shakespeare needs to have Edgar has his subplot to contrast with Lear’s soul struggle. Edgar is a “comic pilgrim”. He request his spirit in this pilgrimage. The story of Edmund and Edgar is just like a medieval high comedy where the bad man loses and the good man avenges.
There are many thoughts in past productions about how to present Edgar in the beginning. Edgar’s naviete and innocence is the reason he falls into Edmund’s trap. He is like a student who asks questions and very uncertain about things. During his escape, his ability to learn about many things makes him survive in the end. His curiosity makes him ask questions and grow. The relation between Edgar and Lear suggests that Edgar must be an important character. His delay of growth is to set growth of Lear’s insights into the human condition.
After the fool disappears, Edgar is the leader for other characters to see better. He helps Lear to discover the true father and true king. Edgar’s study changes after he met Lear and Gloucester and helps them try to prevent the despair and suffering. As he starts to learn about these sufferings, he starts his pilgrimage as a high comic figure. In the process of growing, Edgar becomes Lear’s new son and Lear becomes Edgar’s new father. Edgar is a good son from Christian idea when he takes care of Gloucester. Both Cordelia and Edgar undergo the proof of their love with their father and also heal their father’s physical and mental wounds. Not only the children experienced this, the two fathers also mocked deaths. Edgar also helps Gloucester to cast out the devils from a Christian interpretation. Edgar uses the mock death to help Gloucester freed from his guilty.
Edgar’s exorcism is similar to casting out devil by Christ in chapter five of Mark. He uses poor Tom to relieve Gloucester’s spirit. Edgar is not aware how his power helps him to cast out the devil. After saving Gloucester’s soul, Edgar becomes a universal son that helps the old. Edgar and Gloucester is similar to Leonatus and the King of Paphlagonia in Arcadia. Edgar did not reveal himself to his father right after Gloucester’s rebirth but he did want to. He needs to wait until he is strong enough to fight Edmund and he is also interrupted by Lear and Albany.
Gloucester has fallen into despair many times, but every time it is Edgar who saves him. After Edgar reveal his identity, Gloucester dies with grace though he is pagan. Edgar’s disguise is used to save Gloucester from his despair and also make Edgar grow stronger. In Christian world, Christ and Devil also disguise themselves. Only people who ask questions like Edgar could survive. Edgar’s disguise doesn’t end until he avenges Edmund.
From his pilgrimage, Edgar has learned many Christian virtue. His curiosity and willingness to learn makes him the one who will rule the kingdom. There are five reasons why Shakespeare set Edgar’s comic pilgrimage in Lear’s tragedy. First, even though Lear and Edgar both undergo the adverse struggle, Edgar shows acting as a good man and Lear shows becoming a great man. Second, Edgar’s companionship with others helps them and stress the human mutuality.
The evil characters do not go through a spiritual pilgrimage. Third, Edgar’s growth can be applied to more places in the world after adding the Christian analogues into it. Fourth, Edgar and Kent are set to be the chorus who expresses audience’s feelings at the end of the play. Kent is emotional and wants to die, but Edgar is more philosophical so he can be the one who rules the country. Fifth, Edgar’s comic pilgrimage makes Lear greater for audience after Lear’s death. Lear’s death makes the audience realize how such suffering Lear is experiencing and his death makes him the great king. By then, Edgar’s pilgrimage arrives the destination.
This passage states the thesis about Edgar’s comic pilgrimage in the play and uses specific evidence from the play to proof this point of view. The author discusses why his action in the play is a pilgrimage, the parallel of Edgar’s pilgrimage to stories in the Bible, and reason why Shakespeare put Edgar’s comic pilgrimage in a tragedy. Each paragraph states a point and are well divided. Specific citations from King Lear gives strong evidence to support author’s claim. It is a well rounded essay and analysis Edgar’s pilgrimage from different perspective. Edgar helps Gloucester to overcome the difficulty and he doesn’t reveal himself until the end.
There’s another reason he didn’t tell his father. He doesn’t want his father to know how poor him is undergoing such an incidence from life and be more worried and despair. Peck states that Edgar is going to be a great king and he has good virtues to be able to rule the king. However, in the class discussion, it is said that Edgar doesn’t have the ability to be a king because he doesn’t have the “two spirits” that a king should have in the Elizabethan period. Both Goldman and Peck agrees that Edgar is a figure that is worth to be a king and they both support evidence with it.
Warren, Michael. “Quarto and Folio King Lear and the Interpretation of Albany and Edgar.” Critical Insights King Lear, Salem Press, 2012, pp. 113-119. Even though in the Folio version the size of Edgar’s text is reduced, Edgar’s character is stronger after the new material added in. The added line in folio version that Edgar cries “Fathom and halfe; poore Tom.” gives a big hit on stage and gives more reason for Lear going into madness. Edgar used to be interpreted as good man, but in recent years there are voices stating that Edgar is as evil as Edmund. However, Edgar still has his philosophical position about different things and distanced himself from other events around him.
He thinks in a romantic heroic way and uses encouragement to save his father. Edgar’s love toward his father and his immature judgement can be put together because he is growing. In the quarto version of Act 3.6, Edgar’s speech can show his ability to disguise and endure. Even though Folio version rush through the part, the added part in Act 4.1.6-9 emphasize the hollowness of Edgar’s assertions. This revision makes Edgar more ironic and easier to be noticed by the audience. The speech part of Edgar in Act 5.3 204-21 in the quarto version is deleted because it not only increases the pace of last act but also makes Edgar more mature. The folio version makes Edgar being more philosophical and more reasonable to become a king.
In folio version, Edgar’s elevation in characteristic also shows in the way of reducing Albany’s part. In quarto version, Edgar is still a immature man but in folio version he is a potential leader. However, Albany is a modest but morally right person in the quarto version but a weak man in the folio version. Folio version describes a darker world, making Edgar experience more and grow more to be strong enough as a king.
In this part of the essay, the author discuss about the difference between how folio and quarto version express Edgar differently. Even though there are less size of speeches for Edgar, the revision and replacement of folio version makes Edgar more impressive to audience as a contrast. The essay uses specific examples from the book to support his claim. Example he talks about three places where the reduction of Albany’s part makes Edgar even more stronger. There’s one part in the essay where the author talks about the current view toward Edgar and the author disagrees with them.
It is not necessary to have that paragraph in the essay because it is not related to the difference between the two versions. The introduction for the true alternation doesn’t necessarily has to be a most a page long. Folio version is the final and revised version. Thus it changes from quarto to stress the character that Shakespeare wants to stress. Similar to Peck, Warren also thinks Edgar is the growing and learning character which is able to become a king.