What is the difference between King Lear and Gloucester in terms of plot, character and their experiences in the play?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although King Lear and the Earl of Gloucester are different characters, Gloucester's plight connects and parallels the main plot. Gloucester's children are boys, not girls as in Lear's case. Gloucester seems slower-witted than Lear. Some critics argue that in early scenes he is evidently a very foolish, gullible man. Others see evidence of pride or arrogance in his personality and emphasize his sensuality But both men condemn the good child and reward the child who intends evil. And like Lear, Gloucester is to be punished for his lack of insight or moral vision. However, the subplot is much more than a repetition of the principal story. It reinforces the central themes of the play, including the ingratitude of children, disorder in the family,spiritual development and rebirth. Although Lear is not blinded physically, but Gloucester is. But Gloucester's physical blindness corresponds to Lear's moral blindness. His attempted suicide is similar to Lear's own fall from grace. Many see the suicide attempt as Gloucester's final step toward spiritual renewal. Gloucester's suffers from despair but Lear actually goes mad. Both circumstances allow the two old men to evade one of the realities of aging. At some point, parents need to depend on their adult children. However, Gloucester and Lear eventually accept the necessity of that dependence.