Comparison of King Lear and Gloucester

Topics: Tragedy, Love, William Shakespeare Pages: 3 (865 words) Published: February 27, 2012
English IV

January 31, 2012

"Love, and be silent"

As one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies, the story of King Lear reflects the two extremes of human nature--love and loyalty, lies and betrayal. In such a complex world, Shakespeare ironically contrasts the physical qualities to the deeper meanings of blindness and sight throughout the tragic lives of the King and Gloucester. Their lack of insight cause their hearts to be blinded by their aberrant understandings of love and trust at the early stages where they can still physically see; but it is also such blindness that helps King Lear and Gloucester to find their clear visions back to determine the reality after deep self-realizations when the blindness reaches to its extreme.

Both being fathers and noble men, King Lear and Gloucester are fooled by the flattering words which they are used to and banish the children who devote true love to them. It is unfair to say that they do not love those children, but their wrong social values caused by their special social status have developed a false understanding of real love and loyalty within their minds. As Lear says in front of all his people, "[he] loves [Cordelia] most and thought to set [his] rest/ On her kind nursery" (1.1.124-25), but when his pride takes over his senses, such strong love turns out to be exceeding expectations of apparent and inane flattery from Cordelia. Physically being able to see all the praises and loyalties people has devoted to him, Lear yet has been truly blinded in heart by his lack of insight. Living in his own world which full of lies and pretenses, the King loses his clear vision to determine what the reality is. Also misjudging the truth, Gloucester shows his weakness from believing in Edmund, the bastard, so easily without even sufficient evidence. As an adulterer, he must not understand what love is, for not caring about Edmund's feelings by introducing Edmund is the bastard in front of Kent, and for saying he "so...

Cited: Shakespeare, William, Tucker Brooke, and William Lyon Phelps. _The Tragedy of King Lear_. New
Haven: Yale UP, 1947. Print.
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