Human Nature and the Curse of Perception in King Lear

Shakespeare Unlimited

“Thou, nature, art my goddess. To thy law my services are bound.” Although the word ‘human’ is omitted to describe nature here, that is the exact kind of nature Shakespeare’s villain Edmund is referring to; human nature. One of the things that strikes me about his statement is the malevolence in his tone, which becomes apparent if we read the entire speech. He elucidates the idea that the human species has an innate weakness of credulity only needing the slightest bit of evidence to be o’erswayed in the wrong direction. We see this theme in Macbeth with his trust in the supernatural, Othello with his jealousy of Cassio prompted by the machinations of the evil Iago, and Polonius’ know-it-all over-confidence in knowing the cause of Hamlet’s madness which prompts him to promulgate to the King that Hamlet could be altered such from no other thing besides the “neglected love” of his…

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