William Shakespeare's "King Lear "begins with Lear ignoring the natural order of family inheritance Edgar's defeat of Edmund is in itself fratricide, reminiscent of the biblical Cain and Able, even This also shows his relationship to and mastery of nature. .. It is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. A summary of Act 2, scenes 1–2 in William Shakespeare's King Lear. Edmund calls Edgar out of his hiding place and tells him that Cornwall is angry Regan then asks Gloucester for his advice in answering letters from Lear and Goneril. Explain briefly why King Lear has called his family together in the first scene. What advice does Cordelia give to her sisters as she leaves with the King of France? Gloucester and his illegitimate son Edmund and his legitimate son Edgar are the What is the significance of the father/daughter relationship in this scene?.
Though he has already learned much about the dark ways of love and justice, he is still perhaps too much like Gloucester, still not ready to occupy the position that he will occupy at the end of the play. But he will lose another father.
King Lear Beyond Reason: Love and Justice in the Family
And that loss will teach both him and us some more lessons about love and justice. These lessons will dawn upon us as we discover how and why Edgar has become less and less like Gloucester and more and more like his other father, King Lear. Just as Gloucester had two sons and was bound to one, according to Gloucester himself, only by blood and nature and to the other by blood and law, so Edgar had two fathers, bound to one by both nature and law and to the other by apparently nurture and character.
If we bear these complex connections in mind, we can learn a great deal about the several aspects of paternal and filial love—nature or blood, law or convention, and nurture or character—by observing the ordinarily conjoint aspects of these loves in their isolated operation.
Edmund seems to inherit only the blood lust, such that nature becomes his goddess, his only source of attachment to his father, and the engine of his blind ambition. Edgar inherits a preoccupation with law, legitimacy, and, as we have seen, justice. To witness the drama between Gloucester and Edmund is to witness the power of the blood tie and its horrifying inadequacy as the sole basis for paternity and filial devotion.
To witness the long pilgrimage of Gloucester and Edgar is, as we have seen, to fathom the importance of law and justice as an aspect of paternal and filial devotion, even as we grow to feel the sad inadequacy of justice as the sole basis for paternal and filial love. Gloucester seems simply to lurch between nature and law as defining his paternity.
He sometimes speaks, especially regarding Edmund, as though blood were an all-powerful tie between father and son. At other times, especially regarding Edgar, he speaks as though the law were strong enough to revoke nature itself, to sever the tie of blood and the deep affections that go with it.
I loved him, friend. He needs, not repentance for a single piece of bad judgment, but the power of discerning character and the motivation to do so. He not only names Edgar, he knows who Edgar is. Indeed Edgar is Lear himself, possessed of the same great fault as a child that undoes Lear as a parent. Lear, the parent, tries, at the beginning of the play, to found justice upon love, to divide the kingdom in accordance with the extent to which each of his children loves him.
Throughout the opening actions of the play, i. The more you love, the more material goods you deserve. Edgar wants to found love upon justice, as we have seen. We may wonder, for example, why Lear should unthinkingly assume that Poor Tom has been reduced to such a state because he has given everything away to his daughters III, iv.
Asking them to do the same to love him or to profess love for him in order to secure favors, as Lear does at the beginning of the play seems perfectly reasonable, since Lear has in effect been doing something like that with his daughters all along.
The relationship between Edmund and Edgar- Joseph Manza by joseph manza on Prezi
To expect gratitude as the proper response to gracious love is one thing. To love in a way that aims at gratitude is quite another: Both men learn from opposite sides of the problem the would-be lover and would-be beloved; the parent and the child that the truest love must not be motivated by the prospect of returns.
Lear learns from the fact that his love for his daughters was always so motivated and he was hence driven mad by filial ingratitude, Edgar, from the fact that his project was, as we have seen, doomed to failure both by its own logic and its own psycho-logic. To endeavor to earn unconditional love is a contradiction in terms, one that deepens the very longings it seeks to satisfy.
In order for Lear and Edgar to lead us to feel our way through to these harsh truths about love and justice, parents and children, we must see them as they see themselves, as reverse mirror images of one another. The fool prepares us for this seeing. But Edgar, as we have seen, discovers a more profound truth in the exact reverse of this ditty: Fathers that are blind do make their children wear rags. For the audience as for the characters, matters of love and justice come to be more and more deeply bound up with matters of knowledge and perception.
And we have learned as well that the operation of any one of these aspects to the utter exclusion of the others can lead to hideous results. By focusing our attention upon Edgar and his relationships to his two fathers, we have also been able to discern how crucial it is to construe these complicated matters not in terms of static concepts but in terms of changing patterns of human affection and regard over the course of a lifetime, or a pilgrimage.
The failure to emphasize this crucial longitudinal feature of parental and filial love has led even some of the best philosophers to offer inadequate or unnecessarily perplexing accounts of these matters of love and justice between parents and children.
Is it so because philia in the highest and best sense of the word is superior to justice in that it includes the complete fulfillment of demands between friends for fair and equal treatment? Or do friends have no need of justice because justice and philia, though distinct and sometimes conflicting, are coextensive, i. When Aristotle takes his examples from friendships among persons who are not akin to one another, the former seems to be the case, that is, justice between such friends is both completed and superseded by philia.
But when Aristotle takes his examples from friendships among persons who are akin to one another, the latter seems to be the case.
The point here is not to fault Aristotle for these seeming quandaries, for the same difficulties appear in King Lear. It is as though filial and parental love cannot be fathomed by considering these loves exclusively in terms of philia, eros, or charity, or even in terms of some combination of them.
One can perhaps only watch and be affected into understanding. It would seem that, on the basis of this analysis, children should love their parents more than parents love their children if there is to be a friendship in the highest and best sense among parents and children. On the other hand, elsewhere in his discussion of friendship, when Aristotle elaborates more clearly the character of filial love, he seems again to contradict himself.
Her moving love for her father has come to exceed his for her, and this seems just and fitting in part because of the magnitude of the action. We sense, in the cases of Lear, Gloucester, and their noblest children, that we have witnessed lifetimes unfolding before us, pilgrimages if you will. When asked to capture filial love in speech, Cordelia speaks fittingly and truly of her duties, even as she intimates the dangers inherent in any implicitly quantitive understanding of love by speaking of giving half of her love to her husband, half to Lear.
Between parents and children, love is a matter of living in a loving manner over time: Even so, we live from day to day, and we have seen from the greatly disturbing examples of Lear and Edgar that justice is a necessary part not only of parental love but also of filial love. But if the mingling of love and justice is necessary, is it necessarily tragic? This finally is the great question Lear forces upon us.
This seems to me perhaps the most important lesson the play suggests to us. Though the world of King Lear is finally a bleakly pagan one, its characters articulate a variety of theological convictions that are informed by and that in turn inform their more human loves.
We have seen how and why Edmund regards nature as his goddess. And we find what we would expect to find given our analysis of Lear and Edgar, namely, that both of them insist against all appearances that the gods are finally just, that justice is the supreme theological virtue. Absent any such deity, absent any divine example that might inspire and enable charity as at least another aspect of the love between parents and children, the several tragic dynamics of love and justice continue even to the very end of the play.
Shakespeare's "King Lear": The Promised End - Inquiries Journal
Edgar, as we have seen, has surely risen in both stature and understanding. Moreover, his last words show us that he has grown to appreciate the magnificence that was there in his godfather and to measure himself against it. The weight of this sad time we must obey, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: V, iii Absent charity, there are no grounds for hope.
Yet we do, of course, have Cordelia. Yet throughout most of the play, greatly present in her absence from the action, Cordelia does what she resolved to do from the moment of her first aside: She loves simply, and she simply loves.
We have tried to understand the sources of this refusal. Lear has become the very image of patience and she the very image of charity. The reconciliation takes place between the two of them, not between them and the world.
But the play is most Christian in just exactly this respect. Its unflinching attention to the way the world really works does not permit us to imagine either that charity redeems the world or that it can be in any sense a fit basis for political rule. On this side of eternity, there are at best fleeting though magnificent moments of glad grace, such as the one we witness between Lear and Cordelia.
Although such moments are vastly more redemptive than anything else in the world of Lear, they are finally unworldly, in the world but not of it. The best the world can give us is a justice that is blind and that abides only so long as it remains blind. The best that the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Jesus gives us is a love that sees and that nevertheless abides forever. This charity is truly redemptive, but it is more than human flesh can bear for long.
V Telling stories and seeing plays presuming, of course, that these are the right stories and the right plays at the right time are far better ways toward understanding and even managing these matters of love and justice than any number of other strategies often thought to be superior for such purposes therapy, life experiences, support groups, etc. Moreover, the story has an immediate and astonishing effect upon the seemingly impervious and unredeemable Edmund: As Edmund faces his own death, he strives to save Lear and Cordelia, and in this effort he vindicates the capacity of narrative to move and change us.
Ethics may be finally a matter of perception, of seeing the human world aright, and perception in matters of love and justice just is a matter of seeing the world feelingly. And seeing the world feelingly may be the only way to grasp the major lessons of Lear.
But Cordelia separates herself from that, standing by very human things like truth and love instead of riches. The same Nature that Lear refers to is the same that Edmund swears his allegiance to. Despite Gloucester claiming to love them the same, Edmund still feels slighted.
In his desire to take what he believes is his he is being more natural, using his skills of deception to best his brother and take his birth right, no matter what human laws may say.
He addresses nature in the soliloquy where he lets us know of his evil intentions: He then misleads his father into thinking Edgar is trying to kill him, and Gloucester himself becomes so upset that he questions nature: These late eclipses in the sun and the moon portend no good to us.
Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. After Gloucester is blinded, Edmund receives his reward for his scheming, becoming the new Duke of Gloucester.
This would lead you to believe that this natural societal order of things has lost out to a more bestial order. Goneril and Regan also have a bestial lust, not only for power, but also Edmund.
It is the jealousy that flares up between them that leads to their deaths. The natural order, in a societal sense, is restored when in the death of these sisters, but also when Edgar reclaims his birthright by defeating Edmund in single combat. This is a small victory against the nature that has ravaged England throughout the play. Humanity still loses this war against nature because the rightful king, that of divine right, is dead, and so are his daughters.
Lear often describes human nature in terms of animals.
Goneril, who has little patience for her father and his knights, casts him out of her court. The King may not weep, but nature does in his place, forming a storm and tempest that reflects his inner agony, as if on cue. Here chaos exists in nature, as well as in the world of man-the kingdom is in shambles, and Lear is wandering the countryside. The only glimmer of hope is the return of Cordelia, but not really, because she brings the French with her, something the people in the audience were unlikely to support.
The ties to nature continue until the tragic end. Aristotle said that tragedies require a admirable but flawed character as the lead, but there is little that redeems Leer. His time in the storm allows him to see where he has gone wrong, but he does little to change what he has begat. His greedy desire for the power of a monarch but none of the responsibility is what plunges the kingdom into a chaos.
A chaos that can only be conquered by the death of most of the main characters, as in many other Shakespearian tragedies. Even the innocent Cordelia falls victim to this natural order propagated by greed.