Society and to a lesser extent his father mock him for his secondary status within the social hierarchy. In the love-trial of Act 1, Scene 1, both Goneril and Regan make huge claims about their love for their father, claiming that it surpasses any other kind of happiness they can imagine: Goneril Sir, I love you more than [words] can wield the matter, Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty, Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare, No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour; As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found; A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable: Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
Edgar decides he is the only one who can stop his evil brother, and comes across Albany and shares with him the letter.
Despite the fact that Iago blatantly admitted his crimes to those around him, he was trusted by all until the end, when his evil deeds were revealed. In Act 5, it is Edmund who has Lear and Cordelia imprisoned, and orders that Cordelia should be hanged.
This is first made evident when he convinces Gloucester, simply through the use of a fabricated letter, that Edgar was after his life.
He counters this injustice to him by forging a letter in Edgar's name of a mutiny against Gloucester to steal his land and money. Yet in the end, Edmund repents and tries to rescind his order to execute Cordelia and Lear, but it is done too late: Cordelia has already been executed at Edmund's orders.
The injustice of Edmund's situation fails to justify his subsequent actions, although at the opening of the play when Gloucester explains Edmund's illegitimacy in his hearing to Kent, with coarse jokes, the audience can initially feel sympathetic towards him, until his true character is revealed.