Who is Edmund? (Colleen G, Klea A, Michelle S, Melanie S, Biz L, Cassidy W, Noah K)

  • Edmund is the illigitimate son of Glouchester
  • He is the victim of primogeniture (ruling in which a father's oldest son inherits all of his land, money and power) source
  • He framed his brother, Edgar, with a conspiracy to kill his father
  • He is the reason Goneril and Regan began fighting, which ultimately lead to their deaths Source
  • He desires power
  • He repents before he dies, trying to make up for his past actions against his father, his brother, and ultimately the kingdom source


In the sceen pictured above, Gloucester (Right) is reading a letter given to him by Edmund, which is used to accuse Edmund's brother, Edgar, of treason.

Edmunds Monologue from Act 1, Scene 2 (via YouTube)

Although he is a dispisable character, it is still easy for readers to find themselves feeling pity for Edmund due to his status as Gloucester's illigitimate son. By no means is he a character deserving of compassion, so much as a begrudging recipient of pity. Edmund is by far the most devious character in King Lear,and he gets closer to succeding with his ploy than any other character.
His plan to secure his father's land away from his brother and bring his father down were ultimately sucessful, yet short lived. After his plan falls through, Edmund is repentant. This arises the question of whether he is a truly vile villain, or just an ordinary human, bent on revenge.

"And my invention thrive, Edmund the base

Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper.

Now, gods, stand up for bastards!"

- Edmund's soliloquy, King Lear Act 1, Scene 2