King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s most popular novels, in which he tries to portray society’s dire circumstances. He also demonstrates that, amidst all of society’s tragedies, a hero emerges who overcomes all odds to emerge as a powerful leader and character. King Lear is portrayed as a tragic hero in the play, with the author providing a thorough description of what he goes through, including his defeats. King Lear loses his legitimacy as a King, his sanity, and his identity as a father of many because of his shortcomings. In the play, the author shows the successive events that indicate the losses that King Lear faces. However, in this paper, more focus will be on the character, Edgar, and the events that portray him as a hero in the entire play. Edgar is the son to Gloucester and a brother to Edmund. Edmund is identified as the villain in the play and is also determined to be the primary character in King Lear’s sub-plot. In the play, Edgar goes through a lot of hardships which are attributed to the transgressions of his father. Through these challenges, Edgar overcomes them all and even becomes the King of Britain.
The play begins with Edgar being depicted as a wealthy but a clueless child of Gloucester. Gloucester has been identified to among the most powerful men in the kingdom. The incidence that depicts Edgar as an oblivious child involves a situation where Edmund, takes advantage of him by manipulating his trust on him. In this event, Edmund succeeds in getting his brother Edgar to be falsely accused of killing their father (Shakespeare par 7). With these events in place, Edgar seeks to run away from law and identifies that he can only succeed in doing so by taking a different character. He disguises himself as “poor Tom,” depicting himself as an insane character that goes around begging for food items (Shakespeare par 7). From the play, it is easy to identify that Edgar is convicted unfairly where everything good he has ever had in his life is taken away. Among things taken away from him are his identities and is even forced to live in the lowest social strata (Shakespeare par 8). Through this disguise, Edgar experiences the horrible events that follow King Lear. However, through hard work, reliance, and determination, Edgar survives through the coincidences orchestrated by Shakespeare. His survival indicates that he is a hero in his way.
In the play, the author also goes ahead to show us Edgar’s dark side. The author shows this through assigning Edgar the role of a poor Tom, but the role also appears to appeal the character. In the play, we find that Edgar does not in any way get surprised of his character because he has to come across and endure traumatic situations for him to survive. Specifically, the incidence that plays a major role in identifying Edgar as a hero is the fact that he does not reveal himself to his father even in circumstances he has the opportunity to do so. The reason behind is that Edgar has the intention of punishing his father for convicting him without consulting him about the accusations made by Edmund (Shakespeare par 9). As if the lack of consultation from his father was not enough to insult, he goes to on to declare him as a convict and make his run for his life. Further, Gloucester, his father, does not recognize his son when disguised as poor Tom. Contrary to the expectations, the father goes on to chase the beggar from him.
Edgar is also depicted as a hero in the play because, despite his father’s blindness to recognize him, he does not get angry or leave his father. He cares, guides, and even goes on to kill a man who intends to capture his father. From these events, it can be noted that nothing stops the Edgar from telling his father who he is but still, he does not. The incidence has also been determined to be the most mysterious in the play, and we later realize that Edgar also admits that it was difficult for him to go silent on the entire issue. That is, when narrating his experiences, he says that he could not reveal who he is until the death of Gloucester (Shakespeare par 10). These events depict that Edgar is a hero and this is attributed to the many sacrifices and traumatic situations he goes through.
The other way through which the heroic nature of Edgar can be identified is through his decision not to rub how strong he had grown to his father. He became a strong silent type of person. In this case, we cannot say that he did not reveal himself to his father with intentions of revenge. It can be deduced that Edgar was silent because of he was aware that his father had grown weak. Therefore, no matter how strong he had grown, Edgar wanted his father to remain to be a father, a powerful man so that he could remain a child in the presence of his father (Shakespeare par 11). In either way, Edgar remained to be a good man who went through traumatic experiences and hard times on his way to the top as a hero. However, it is evident that there are strange incidences in the play and especially in Edgar’s claims about the reason why his father lost his eyes. According to Edgar, it was some form of divine justice that made his father bride, and this is attributed to his sentiments that the vicious and dark places his father visited cost him his eyes (Shakespeare par 12). However, these claims reach some extreme levels where he blames his father’s adulterous character which brought about Edmund to be the reason behind his blindness.
Edgar’s silent sadist nature also contributed to his heroic character. In this case, it can be said that Edgar had much reason as to why he did not reveal himself to his father. To some point, his father wishes that he was not blind so that he can have the chance to be reunited with his son and also get to see and touch him (Shakespeare par 13). Edgar happens to hear what his father wishes but still, goes on to hide his identity and this can be interpreted as a way to punish his father for sending him as a convict without consulting him concerning the accusation. The sadistic nature of the character develops him to acquire heroic traits.
The last event that shows that Edgar is a hero is the moment when he shows up to fight with Edmund. In the meeting, Edgar accuses Edmund of being a traitor for having betrayed his brother and father. Edmund denies the accusations, and they engage in a battle where Edgar wins by stabbing his brother (Shakespeare par 16). Before the death of his brother, Edgar reveals his identity and narrates the challenges he goes through for him to be where he is. Later in the play after the death of King Lear, Albany, the default King offer to share the throne with Edgar.
In conclusion, the events relating Edgar in the play prepare him for a greater course of having a share in the throne. It has been noted that Edgar is depicted as a hero in the play because, despite his father’s blindness to recognize him, he does not get angry or leave his father. He cares, guides, and even goes to kill a man who intends to capture his father. Specifically, the incidence that plays a major role in identifying Edgar as a hero is the fact that he does not reveal himself to his father even in circumstances he has the opportunity to do so. The reason behind is that Edgar has the reason to confront his father for convicting him without consulting him about the accusations made by Edmund. Later in the play after the death of King Lear, Albany, the default King offer to share the throne with Edgar which is the ultimate heroic achievement of Edgar.
Shakespeare, William. “Edgar / Poor Tom.” Cliffsnotes.com. N.p., 2017. Accessed 18 July 2017.