Tragedy is defined by a series of unfortunate events that occurs to someone who does not deserve them. When a protagonist makes mistakes, sometimes other characters take the repercussions. Set in a time of royalty and ranks, King Lear describes parallel events of the pursuit of power, recognition, and certain tragic choices. With parallelism, similar occurrences highlight the importance of certain themes. In the play, William Shakespeare juxtaposes Lear’s choices and aftermath those of Gloucester to illustrate how physical and figurative blindness can lead to tragic endings.
By showing similarity between Lear and Gloucester’s impulsive actions, Shakespeare shows how making decisions without consideration can lead to the ultimate demise for the innocent. Lear makes rash decisions and is metaphorically blind because he does not listen to the truth and can not see past mere words. His first daughter swoons him by saying, “Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter, dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty…beyond all manner of so much I love you.” (Shakespeare I.i. 60-65). Lear believes those pleasant praises, however empty they may be. He makes the mistake of basing his ideals on superficiality and rewarding those who could cajole him, which further shows his blindness as a father and king. Like Lear, Gloucester makes similar decisions. His choice of putting his trust where he would be oblivious to bad intentions causes his physical blindness. Neither Gloucester nor Lear can see past simple words and both refuses to see, therefore they are figuratively blind. Their similarity and parallel actions is significant because it intensifies the idea of how blindness can be tragic. Their blindness and fatal errors ultimately lead to the unreasonable death of the guiltless.