5 of Swords - Edmund
Dramatis Personae: Edmund, bastard son to Gloucester; Goneril; Regan.
Text & Context: Ed derives from ead, meaning rich; mund is Old English meaning shield. Mund is an obsolete word meaning a security granted by an earl or king. Its original meaning is hand, but also correlates to toil and trouble, i can, and mouth. In this way, we can see Edmund as biting the hand that feeds him. He violates the trust bestowed on him, seeks worldly [mundane] gain, and protects only that which he selfishly values.
Before Edmund physically blinded Gloucester, he used a quill to blind him with forged paper. Of course, Gloucester was already long since hard of seeing.
That Edmund was a bastard was no fault of his, but of the societal cloth from which he was cut. His poor taste in women, however, may be accredited his own. A character akin in ways to Macbeth, Edmund has "good" reasons, both moral and practical, to reject the laws of society and state; reasons which he then uses to serve a tyrant. Thereby born, or untimely ripped, from more of the same wrong-thinking he rebelled against, was but further loss and dishonour.
With all the mendacity, spite, malice, and treachery inherent in Edmund, he nonetheless draws short of playing the bastard to the very end. If not repenting, he accepts the futility of belligerence and attempts to rescind his order to execute Lear and Cordelia. In this, too, he is defeated. As are those who yet care for the aged king and his daughter, otherwise distracted by the violence and drama of Edmund's intrigues.
Intertext: Staffs 5 Edgar; The Star XVII Cordelia; The Sun XIX King Lear.