King Lear

by: William Shakespeare


Edmund, Goneril, and Regan all act as antagonists in King Lear, but the real antagonist may be the idea of power itself. In the beginning of the play, when they have relatively little power, Goneril and Regan flatter Lear to stay in his favor and beguile him into surrendering his power. Goneril and Regan use their new power to plot against Lear and thwart his hopes for a peaceful retirement. Similarly, Edmund uses the power he has over Gloucester to thwart his brother, Edgar’s, chances of becoming king. Briefly, Edmund is the most powerful character in the play, and during that moment he gives orders for Cordelia’s execution, thwarting Lear’s hopes for their reunion. Most of all, Lear himself is antagonized by power. At the beginning of the play, Lear fails to see his situation clearly because of his own political power. Once he loses his power to Goneril and Regan and is cast out into the storm, Lear is humbled by his own insignificance in the world and realizes he cannot defeat his antagonist.