King Lear: Good Vs. Evil Essay, Research Paper
Good v. Evil
In William Shakespeare?s King Lear, both good and evil meet with ironic demises. The very brother whom Edmund betrayed is the one who destroys him. Regan?s vanity and pretense bring about her downfall. His own good and trusting nature shatter the life of King Lear. These three characters? faults and virtues lead to their utter annihilation.
First of all, the downfall of Edmund is ironic in that its instigator is Edgar, the brother Edmund sought to betray. Edmund believed that those around him were a ?tribe of fops? (I, ii, 14), while he a brilliant mastermind. Edmund blackened Edgar?s name to their father, Gloucester; Edgar fled into the woods, a hunted man. Edmund planned out his course of action in a series of eloquent soliloquies. Meanwhile, Edgar passed himself off as a mad beggar in order to survive. Edmund was successful in exiling Edgar; forcing Edgar to disguise himself. There is great irony in the fact that Edgar, the nobler brother, must disguise himself in the ?basest and most poorest shape? (II, iii, 7) while everyone thinks of Edmund as good and trustworthy. Another factor in Edmund?s downfall is his relationships with Goneril and Regan. These ?love? affairs did not fit into Edmund?s master plan. Cornwall?s request that Edmund ?keep/ . . . [Goneril] . . . company? (III, vii, 7-8) was the beginning of the end for Edmund. Had it not been for this deviation from the plan, Edgar would never have killed Oswald and read Goneril?s letter; thus uncovering Edmund?s treachery. The irony of Edmund?s brilliant schemes being destroyed by ?a serviceable villain? (IV, vi, 256) like Oswald is virtually insurmountable. Albany?s revelation of Edmund?s ?heinous manifest, and many treason?s? (V, iii, 93) comes too late to save Cordelia, Lear, Gloucester, Regan, and Goneril. Despite the fact that Edmund?s death helps no one, it proves that evil loses in the end. The destruction of Regan serves a similar purpose.
Regan is a vain, greedy and deceitful woman; she uses whatever means necessary to get what she wants. The irony of her downfall is that Goneril beat her at her own game. Regan practices the ?glib and oily art? (I, i, 226) of flattery in order to gain her father?s lands. She then turns on her father; not seeing it fit to be grateful for his generosity. She treats Kent, whom she must respect as a representative of the King, worse than she would treat her ?father?s dog? (II, ii, 137). She acts this way because she believes herself more important than all other people