Describing major similarities and differences in a sequence of recurring events in King Lear and discussing the significance of such events.

Essay by fresa54High School, 12th gradeA+, March 2003

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In the play King Lear, the recurring theme of betrayal is a central part of the work, used to connect characters and events. The theme of betrayal proves to be very significant in the sense that it ultimately conveys a lesson that those who stay true to their loved ones will live happily and those who betray will suffer a fate of demise. Shakespeare also uses this lesson in the play as a reflection of the morals of the time period, and the morals of humanity in general.

Early in the play, Gloucester is tricked into believing that his legitimate son, Edgar, is slowly plotting to take over his thrown by Edmund. In reality, this is all part of Edmund's plot to gain the thrown that he believes belongs to him. He closes his scheme out by convincing Edgar that his father was furious with him and to keep out of his way, armed.

While he thinks he is doing justice, "Now, gods, stand up for bastards," (I.ii.22), he is truly betraying his family. Once the plot begins to unfold, Lear loses complete power to the point where his daughters turn on him and when the faithful Gloucester stays by his side, Edmund betrays him by reporting his actions. At this, he is given the title of the Earl of Gloucester, but Shakespeare will not allow this villain to go on without a flicker of weakness, "'Tis true/ The wheel is come full circle; I am here" (V.iii.208). Edmund acknowledges his end all at this point. Edgar and Edmund meet and Edgar mortally wounds the traitor son. A significant aspect of Edmund's death is that not only do those that betray get punished, but those that remain loyal are rewarded. After the battle, the Duke of Albany hands the kingdom...