What is the dramatic significance of the subplot in King Lear?

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The subplot of King Lear focuses on the Earl of Gloucester’s loss of power as he misjudges his children’s intentions with regard to their inheritance. Gloucester’s illegitimate son Edmund convinces him that his legitimate son Edgar is plotting against him. After transferring power to Edmund, Gloucester realizes his mistake and eventually pays the physical price of losing his eyes.

This subplot both mirrors and provides depth to the main plot surrounding the aging King Lear and his children’s desire for his power. Lear is swayed by Goneril and Regan to disown Cordelia and leave her out of inheriting the kingdom. Cordelia is the only daughter who is honest and caring for her father, while Goneril and Regan simply want power, just like Edmund. Goneril and Regan begin a war which ultimately leads to King Lear’s death.

The purpose of including the subplot helps show that this experience is a human experience and not one solely affecting King Lear. It shows that no matter the amount of...

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