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Shakespeare: King Lear

24. Act 5, Scene 3: Edmund is Defeated

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In this module, we read through the first half of Act 5, Scene 3, up to the point at which Edmund is defeated by his brother, Edgar. In particular, we think about: (i) the reaction of Lear and Cordelia to their defeat in battle; (ii) the breakdown of relationships between Goneril and Regan; (iii) the duel between Edgar and Edmund; (iv) the importance of names, having a name and not having a name (“Know my name is lost”, 119); and (v) the expectations that Edgar’s victory over Edmund sets up in terms of what will happen in the second half of the scene. Will everything turn out for the best after all?


In this twenty-five part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Shakespeare’s King Lear. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, political and intellectual context of early 17th-century England. After that, we go through the play scene by scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism – and more.

We use the Arden (Third Series) edition of the play. Students using a different edition of the play may encounter slight differences in both the text and line numbers.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

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APA style

McRae, J. (2019, February 26). Shakespeare: King Lear - Act 5, Scene 3: Edmund is Defeated [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: King Lear – Act 5, Scene 3: Edmund is Defeated." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Feb 2019,

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