Shakespeare's King Lear is a story of betrayal and dishonesty. There are no limits to the evil behavior of the characters throughout the play and family relationships are ignored in a strong desire for power. This wickedness is found in the characters of Edmund, bastard son of the Earl of Gloucester; Goneril and Regan, the two eldest daughters of King Lear.

Edmund is displayed as "the most evil." When we first see Edmund, he is already entrenched in treachery. His need for power has clouded his mind to the extent that he deceives his brother, Edgar. Edmund writes a false letter to his father accusing his brother in a plot to kill Gloucester. Edmund then goes to Edgar and convinces him to run away. Edgar, like his father is easily deceived, and runs.

Is it his "evil nature" that makes him write the letter? Or is it the "hatred" that gives rise to such bitterness? I would say that it could very well be a combination of the two, but more significantly, I feel that since Edmund has been told his entire life that he is a bastard, he therefore thinks of himself as evil and inferior to his brother. This self-image makes him think that he is "bad" and incapable of doing anything good.

Edmund's evil doings continue to the next level. He has no shame or self respect left and he would do anything to gain power. He writes another letter to the king, accusing his father in a plot with France to kill The Duke of Cornwall. The king convicts Gloucester and orders that his eyes be torn out. .

Two of the other characters of the play, Goneril and Regan surely equal Edmund's cruelty in their greed for power. In one of the scenes, the king asks each of his three daughters to profess their love for him. He wants to distribute parts of his kingdom to them and the one who loves him the most gets the majority of the empire. The king's two daughters, Regan and Goneril, unlike their sister Cordelia, flatter their father and tell him how great their love for him is.