When my dimensions are as well compact, My mind as generous, and my shape as true as honest madam’s issue? Why brand us with “base” with “baseness” with “bastardy?”” (1.2.7-10).
As I began to read the opening scenes of King Lear, the one passage that truly stuck out to me was Edmund’s Soliloquy at the beginning of Act 1 Scene 2. This passage is full of emotion and frustration that gives a bit of background to the motives of Edmund. Edmund’s actions that come from his neglect and jealousy are similar to Barty Crouch Jr.’s actions in the Harry Potter series.
Jealousy and neglect push people to dangerous and evil measures. As we can see in the second scene of Act 1, Edmund opens with a soliloquy about his anger of being titled as a bastard child, an illegitimate son. He is jealous that he always feels second rate to his half brother Edgar who will receive his fathers land and power once he dies. Notably, he shows his frustration when he says,“When my dimensions are as well compact, My mind as generous, and my shape as true as honest madam’s issue? Why brand us with “base” with “baseness” with “bastardy?”” (1.2.7-10). Here Edmund is asking why he has to be titled “bastardy” or second rate when he is equally as smart and generous as his brother Edgar, or any other legitimate child?
He further ponders why his conception is considered lowly when compared to those of legitimate children. When Edmund writes, “Who in the lusty stealth of nature take More composition and fierce quality Than doth within a dull, stale, tired bed Go to th’creating a whole tribe of fops” (1.2.11-14). In this short passage Edmund comments that his conception was full of emotion and passion that came from the lovers in the affair, rather than the conception of legitimate children who’s conception is set in a dull marriage bed who’s parents goal isn’t pleasure, but for the maximum volume of children they can produce. So shouldn’t the child that came from a passionate love affair be ranked higher in societal value than the conception of a dull, grey marriage bed?
Edmund begins his plot to gain Gloucester’s land and money by showing his father a letter that he wrote, but had forged Edgar’s name on it, which surmised of Edgar’s desire to kill Gloucester. Edmund’s actions are driven out of jealousy for always being treated second best by a society that values birthright and birth order ahead of the character of a person on an individual basis.
This is similar to the character of Barty Crouch Jr. from the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling. In the fourth book, “The Goblet of Fire” Barty Crouch Jr. is introduced as a character that was never a main priority for his work-aholic father, Barty Crouch. His father was always away at work and failed to tend to the activities of his only son, this led to Barty Crouch Jr. to join the antagonist of the series, Lord Voldemort, in order to attain a sense of power in a society that has failed him, and a father that made him feel second best. This is very similar to how Edmund concocted a plan to gain power by having Gloucester think his legitimate son Edgar wants him killed.
Towards the end of the book (SPOILER ALERT) Barty Crouch Jr. resurfaces from being imprisoned by his father due to the embarrassment of his purebred son being caught with evil-doers, Crouch breaks his imprisonment and seeks out his master Lord Voldemort and attempts to kill Harry Potter. In the process of escaping his father’s wrath, he murders his father to keep the plan to kill harry Potter in tact. After the attack on Harry Potter fails, he has his soul sucked out of his body by a dementor, which is when Albus Dumbledore is quoted talking to the Minister of Magic, “”You place too much importance on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” This compares to Edmund’s frustration about being thought of as lower class, even though he is equally, if not more, intelligent and compassionate as his brother Edgar. He is equal to his brother in every sense of the word, except the fact that he was born from a mother that was not married to Gloucester.
Jealousy and neglect are an evil concoction that push people like Edgar and Barty Crouch Jr. to actions of the utmost evil.
Harry Potter reference: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/harry-potter-discussion-guide-first-4-books