What do Edmund’s deceptions reveal about him and those he deceives?
Edmund’s deceptions reveal that he is malicious, but believes he is worthy. He believes it is acceptable that he deceives others because he deserves more in life even though he is a bastard: “Edmund the base/ Shall [top] th’ legitimate. I grow, I prosper./ Now, gods, stand up for bastards!” (1.2.21-23). Edmund does not understand why his brother Edgar, the legitimate son, should get his father’s estate. He justifies his deception by the idea that he deserves the land as much as Edgar does.
Edmund deceives his father, Gloucester. He fakes a letter from Edgar which implies that Edgar will kill Gloucester to have the estate sooner. Gloucester immediately believes Edmund and shuns Edgar. Gloucester ends up condemning Edgar to death and taking Edmund as his heir. This shows that Gloucester is extremely paranoid of anything happening to him and that he does not value his son. He does not address his son personally about this situation before condemning him to death. Gloucester says, “That the which finds him shall deserve our thanks,/ Bringing the murderous coward to the stake” (2.1.71-72). Gloucester does not value his son. He immediately believes Edmund’s lie and is out to get Edgar.
Edmund also deceives his brother Edgar and tell him to flee from Gloucester. Edgar takes Edmund’s advice immediately. In addition, Edgar thanks Edmund for his advice. Edgar does not say much of anything when Edmund tells him this. Yet, Edgar listens. He values Edmunds advice and does not suspect Edmund set him up. Edgar believes that “Some villain hath done me wrong” (1.2.172). Yet, Edgar does not believe that villain is Edmund otherwise he would not have taken Edmund’s advice. This shows that Edgar and Edmund have a good brotherly relationship. Edgar does not suspect Edmund to be the villain, and he immediately takes his word as truth.