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Kenneth Jones Professor Bailey English 2322 May 28 2000 A Look at Shakespeares Edmund In King Lear the villainous but intelligent Edmund with more than a brief examination into his character has understandable motivations outside of the base purposes with which he might at first be credited Edmund is a character worthy of study as he seems to be the most socially complex character of the play In a sense he is both victim and villain Edmund is introduced into the play in the opening scene with his father Gloucester stating that he acknowledges him as his son but publicly mocking him for his bastardy He is referred to by Gloucester as a reason for Gloucester to blush and as a knave in front of Kent 119-25 According to Claude J Summers Illegitimacy is the characteristic which most pervasively defines Edmunds life 225 In essence this means that personal embarrassment and public humiliation are a continual torment for him his entire life Concerning the illegitimate sons of royalty in England at that time according to Chris Given-Wilson in The Royal Bastards of Medieval England The bend or baton sinister were used as the standard mark of illegitimacy in their heraldry 52 Edmund and those like him expected to serve in battle were immediately known to other knights as being bastards because it was clearly emblazoned on their shields Given his fathers mocking of him it can be expected that this was common treatment for illegitimate sons of nobility and the carrying of a sign to broadcast his perceived lower class would be cause for further humiliation Edmund is a highly intelligent person He is able to beguile his father so it may be argued that he is more intelligent than Gloucester With the concept of forging a letter supposedly penned by Edgar in order to cause his loyalty to be in question he shows that he
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