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The Shakespeare Tarot - Edgar

5 of Staffs - Edgar

Dramatis Personae: Edgar, a.k.a. Poor Tom.

Text & Context: With Edgar and his sibling rival Edmund, it's as if the author has divided himself in half, in what could be called the ed-trick. They both appear half-way through their respective suits, at the volatile turning point: 5.

 Ed derives from ead, meaning rich; gar cognates with Old English gâr, meaning spear. Tom, of the Poor Tom bedlam-trick, means twin, and can be used to indicate a common man; it's also the French word for word backwards. As with the author's various identities, we can see in Edgar at least 5 persons: the honourable son, Poor Tom the bedlamite who helps Gloucester to the precipice, the gentleman on the shore who attests to Gloucester's fall, the stranger with an affected voice who cudgels Oswald, and Albany's fully-armored champion.  

 Many have wondered at Edgar's seeming sadism at not revealing his identity to his father - a father who, with or without eyes, couldn't recognize his son. Gloucester's blindness to life is such that he has to die and be reborn, redeemed by his fall. It's a rebirth Edgar must bear. Indeed he's prodded, in the end, into being something of a bastard.

Intertext: Swords 5 Edmund; The Star XVII Cordelia; The Sun XIX King Lear.

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