Cite This Page
Edgar Timeline and Summary
- 1.2 Clueless, trusting Edgar never considers doubting what his half-brother Edmund tells him. So when Edmund says that their father is upset with Edgar and that he should lie low for a while, Edgar believes him.
- 2.1 Edgar has been hiding in his half-brother's room. Now, Edmund tells Edgar that he should leave town for a while because his father is really angry, and Edgar is also being accused of plotting against the Duke of Cornwall, who is about to visit the castle. Edgar, totally perplexed, runs off.
- 2.2 After Gloucester's men chase him out of the castle, Edgar escapes capture by hiding in a tree. He realizes that he is a fugitive, even though he has no idea what he did wrong. To save himself from the men who are trying to track him down, Edgar decides to disguise himself as Poor Tom, a crazy, half-naked beggar.
- 3.4 Edgar is trying to find shelter from a storm when he runs into Lear, his Fool, and Kent (also in disguise as a servant). Edgar acts completely batty to avoid being recognized. His act succeeds. Then Edgar's father Gloucester comes in – but even he doesn't recognize Edgar. Instead, Gloucester dismisses the homeless crazy man and tries to drive him away. But Lear demands that Poor Tom come with him.
- 3.6 Lear is acting increasingly insane. To see a once great man reduced to a babbling crazy is so sad that Edgar almost breaks his disguise by crying. When Gloucester comes back to take Lear and the others away, Edgar stays behind. He realizes his situation, although pretty terrible, is not as bad as Lear's.
- 4.1 Edgar has almost adjusted to his life as a shivering homeless man. At least, he thinks, he knows that life can't get any worse. Then he sees his father stumbling towards him – and realizes that someone has ripped out Gloucester's eyes. Edgar agrees to lead his father to Dover, a nearby town, but Gloucester still thinks he's just Poor Tom the homeless guy. Even though his father reveals he now knows his son to be innocent, Edgar still doesn't confess his true identity.
- 4.6 Gloucester wants to commit suicide by jumping off the famous cliffs of Dover. But Edgar has a plan – he'll fool his blind father into thinking he's jumping off a cliff, but actually he'll just be falling onto flat ground. For yet another unknown reason, his plan works. When Edgar goes up to his father, who is lying confused on the ground, Edgar changes his voice and switches identities. He convinces Gloucester that he really did fall off a cliff, and that the gods must have somehow saved him for a special purpose. Then Lear comes in, and Edgar has to watch the painful interaction between two great leaders who have been reduced to a blind man and a madman. Lear runs off, and Oswald, Goneril's smarmy servant, comes in and attempts to kill Gloucester to get a reward. Edgar puts on still another accent so that Oswald won't recognize him. Then, to protect his father, Edgar kills Oswald. Then he discovers that Oswald is carrying a letter that reveals that Edmund is plotting to kill Goneril's husband. Edgar decides he has to do something about this.
- 5.1 Edgar shows up in disguise at the enemy camp and gives Albany, Goneril's husband, the incriminating letter about Goneril and Edmund. Edgar also promises to fight Edmund.
- 5.2 Edgar leaves his father behind and goes off to fight in the battle against Regan and Goneril. Edgar's side loses the battle, so he comes back to lead Gloucester to safety.
- 5.3 Edgar shows up to fight Edmund. He accuses Edmund of betraying his father and brother as well as Albany, Goneril's husband. Edmund denies everything and they get right into the sword fighting action. Edgar stabs his brother and wins the duel. As Edmund is slowly dying, Edgar reveals his true identity and narrates his whole story. He tells Edmund that their father died of shock when he (Edgar) finally revealed himself to him. Along with everybody else, Edgar sees Lear come in carrying Cordelia's body. After Lear dies, Albany, the default king, offers to share the throne with Edgar and Kent. Edgar does not refuse the offer, and in some versions of the play he speaks the final lines: "The weight of this sad time we must obey / speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. /The oldest hath borne most; we that are young / Shall never see so much, nor live so long" (5.3.321-325). Of course, in other versions, he merely stands around.