Edgar and Edmund: Uncanny Twins in Shakespeare's King Lear

Because of its intimidating grandeur, Shakespeare's King Lear is rightly regarded by many as the Mount Everest of English literature. The masterwork can certainly be overwhelming in its scope. Therefore, reading is sometimes easier if one starts with a particular angle of approach. Hence, in this seminar we will consider the play through a special focus on the two brothers, Edgar and Edmund. On the surface, one brother is seemingly good and the other evil. Closer reading, however, reveals that the two diametrically opposed siblings hold much in common. Sometimes the two even seem to share the same thoughts, for instance. Further questions concern the symbolic significance of twins in literature more generally. The seminar will consider the uncanny rhythms of the brothers' convergence and divergence as they move across the arc of the drama. A focus on the two strange brothers will perhaps open broader vistas on the meaning of Shakespeare's most sublime drama.