This image is taken from Act 5, Scene 3, highlighting Albany's indifferent response to Edmund's death. "That's but a trifle here." While Edmund has proven himself a villain, perhaps meriting Albany's disdain even in death, this ironic termination of his scheme (to amass power and importance, thus overcoming his illegitimate origins) deserves a second look. Edmund's life is still valued as nothing, but is it valued as nothing because of what he's done or because of who his mother was? Has he become unnatural or merely realized everyone's expectations?
My literary analysis has become more about character and dialogue than overarching themes, though I hope I've been able to examine those as well. Using the highlighting tool on my Kindle has slowed down my reading, but it's also forced me to think more about why Shakespeare used prose/verse when he did, or how specific word choices and rhythms build the characters he's created. I've highlighted each time someone uses the word "bastard" in the play (totaling 21), and while these uses don't always seem to refer to Edmund, I found myself experiencing a small taste of what Edmund must have gone through all his life. At first, these coarse referrals to illegitimacy gave me extreme secondhand embarrassment for Edmund's sake, but I gradually found myself becoming more numb to it. This helped me understand Edmund more as a character--he is unnatural toward his family because he's numb from hearing "bastard" all his life. Even though a reader would be hard-pressed to redeem Edmund completely, I can't help but think Shakespeare intended his audience to know Edmund's world a little better for his liberal use of that word, and thus understand his most villainous character's true motivations.
I found myself following trends of conversation on Slack to see what other people were gathering from the play. While the discussions were generally about character and theme, direct quotes helped draw my attention to fresh takes on a certain scene. Particularly in discussions of sight and blindness, as well as the role of the fool, I appreciated others' comments about how sight doesn't just refer to Gloucester and Lear, but to every person within the play, and how the Fool and Cordelia function in much the same way (for example, Lear says his "fool" is dead while cradling Cordelia's corpse). Both keep Lear "sane" by helping him understand his true self while allowing lunacy to humble and save him from the artifice of court. Referrals to sites and forums also helped with providing direct quotes and diverse interpretations, about the nature of blindness and the connection between lunacy and redemption.
[Causal Claim] While their children are not innocent of wrongdoing, parent figures within "King Lear" are those most responsible for the play's tragic conclusion because they exemplify all the faults they most criticize in their offspring, leaving the reader to assume their children learned cruelty, blindness, and in the case of Edmund and Gloucester, sheer lust, from their parents. Thus the tragedy is a result of bad parenting, not filial disobedience.
[Evaluation Claim] In "King Lear," parent figures repeatedly criticize their offspring for traits they also exhibit, such as hotheadedness, blindness, and lustful self-indulgence. These figures also demand obedience from their offspring, and those that disobey most openly are ultimately those that serve their parents' best. Therefore, this play is not an argument for filial gratitude, but an argument that filial love based on true knowledge of one's parent is better than love based on blind obedience.
[Definition Claim] In "King Lear," parent figures are best served by servants and children that acknowledge their parents' faults rather than unwittingly imbibe them, leading the reader to conclude that true filial loyalty is not self-serving obedience and mirroring the traits of one's parent, but measured resistance and sincerity.
[Comparison Claim] Within "King Lear," offspring and parents exhibiting the same faults of judgment and character are judged unequally, with more being expected of children than parents. Therefore, the play is not a demonstration of the necessity of filial obedience but a warning against society's penchant to demand goodness of children not modeled by their parents.
[Policy Claim] In his play "King Lear," Shakespeare argues that children should not be held to higher standards than their parents, but that parents should first hold themselves accountable. Parent figures within the play often criticize their children for faults they themselves possess, unwisely placing trust in the children that appear to obey them most faithfully rather than those who disobey out of love, justifying the reading that the play's tragedy is matter of parental hypocrisy rather than filial disobedience.