Parallels between Lear and Gloucester

In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, there are many parallels between Lear and Gloucester. Some significant and common occurrences in these parallels are the motifs of madness and blindness. 

Both Lear and Gloucester misjudge their children and make huge sacrifices in order to eventually gain clarity. Gloucester can’t see which of his sons is truly good and loyal until he’s lost his vision. Similarly, it isn’t until Lear loses his power, respect, and eventually his sanity that he discovers it was actually Cordelia who loved him and it was Goneril and Regan who were out to get him. 

There is a common irony in Lear and Gloucester’s storylines where they needed to lose their sight or mind to see or think clearly. It’s not until Lear and Gloucester lose physical clarity and coherence that they can both realize the mistakes and misjudgments they’ve made.

Additionally, Lear and Glocester mirror each other again just before each of their deaths. Just before Lear dies, his eyes stop working, and just before Gloucester dies, he wished that he’d go insane, thinking that would make dying easier. 

These similarities, common motifs, and parallel plots serve to emphasize how greed and mistrust are harmful to authority, respect, and family dynamics.

2 thoughts on “Parallels between Lear and Gloucester

  1. OWEN C

    I really like the connection you’ve made between the two. I think the whole idea is that both characters are blind until they become powerless that’s when they can finally see. I think the point you’ve made helps me better understand Shakespeare’s efforts to showcase these motifs.


  2. ELIAS N.

    This is something I wish that more people would talk about. I think it is interesting to see the parallel between the two, and by having two characters stories mirror each other, I think that the points being made are just emphasized more. This “doubling up” of the story of Lear seems to really emphasize the importance of the themes of Lear.


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