Friday, November 11, 2016

Elise's Annotated Bibliography (1)

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Edmund is such an obvious villain in King Lear, that I think sometimes people overlook his other qualities. There is a depth to his actions that should be examined if we are to better understand this play. In my paper I review different portrayals of Edmund in film, theatee, artwork, and (of course) the original play in order to find potential sympathetic and redemptive qualities in Edmund.

Working Title: Complexities of Character: Edmund’s Inner Struggles
Working Thesis: Because Edmund attempts to save Lear and Cordelia, he should not be read as a flat, heartless character but rather as a complex man with conflicting interests and even redemptive qualities.

Annotated Bibliography (Scholarly and Media Sources)
Cole, Elizabeth. “Pretenders to Birthright, Heirs to Virtue: The Legitimacy of the Tudors and Shakespeare’s Characters.” Brigham Young University BYU Scholars Archive. Web. http:// scholarsarchive.
            Cole examines the Elizabethan Era stigmas surrounding illegitimate births and how this plays into Shakespearean plays. This is perfect for a study of Edmund and his possible motivations.

Lindhé, Anna. “Sisterhood, Shame, and Redemption in Cat’s Eye and King Lear.” Margaret Atwood Studies 7 (2013): 11-24. Web. and_Redemption_in_Cats_Eye_and_King_Lear._Margaret_Atwood_Studies_7
            Lindhé compares characters and themes of King Lear and Margaret Atwoods’s novel Cat’s Eye. I plan on using her discussion of the qualities of redemption found in King Lear. Even though she does not address Edmund specifically, she does talk about the humanist, Christian, an nihilist viewpoints present in the play.

Lindsay, Robert. Edmund. 1983, photograph, Robert Web. http://www.robert
            Robert Lindsay’s portrayal of Edmund in the 1983 film version of King Lear showcases a contemplative Edmund. I chose to include this image in my research because the conflict and internal debate Edmund has with himself is evident in this photo.

Matthews, Richard. “Edmund's Redemption in King Lear.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 1, 1975, pp. 25–29. Web.

            Matthews examines how critics have responded to Edmund’s ‘conversion’ in this analysis. This will greatly influence my paper because he directly addresses my topic; furthermore, he pulls in several other critics opinions.

Seiden, Melvin. “The Fool And Edmund: Kin And Kind.” Studies in English Literature (Rice) 19.2 (1979): 197-214. Humanities Source. Web. 1#page_scan_tab_contents
            This essay compares the characters of The Fool and Edmund from King Lear. Oddly enough, Seiden argues that they share a similar belief system. Thus, I analyze Edmund’s ability to be redeemed and whether he follows his own (however twisted) code of humanist ethics.

Topper, Anthony. Shakespeare in the Park:Edmund. 2006, photograph, Gamut Theatre Group. Web.
            This still shows Anthony Topper performing as Edmund in the Gamut Theatre Group’s production of King Lear. The photograph depicts a rather common image of Edmund; he seems intensely focused, he appears powerful, and his facial expression is obviously villainous.


  1. I like this! I think it's a good read on a commonly vilified character (though he's vilified for good reason). Are you going to take as stand on whether he was "good" or "bad at the end, or simply leave it at he was neither?

    1. I feel like I should take a stronger stance one way or another, but I think in the end his attempt at rectifying his wrongs in no way covers what he has done. However, according to his own humanist viewpoint he is redeemed. I do think that he has more good in him than what we normally think he has. But in my paper I lean toward showing his sympathetic side and how he redeems himself.

  2. This topic sounds so interesting! Found this article about sympathetic villains in modern cinema (, if you want to compare traditional portrayals of Edmund with modern interpretations of the character, and how looking through a modern lens makes him into more of a Byronic hero than mustache-twirling bad guy.

  3. The Matthews article and the Lindsay photos look like they can strongly support your developing claim. You'll just really need to set up why it is contrary to expectations to see this character as redeemable or redeemed. And, how might a sympathetic Edmund undermine or complicate traditional readings of Lear as a tragedy?