Differences of King Lear and Gloucester

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In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the theme of sight and clear vision is portrayed through the characters of Lear and Gloucester. Both characters are vulnerable and suffer due to their lack of understanding and direction. Lear is blind in the sense that he lacks insight, understanding, and direction while Gloucester becomes physically blind but gains insight. Both characters are blind to deceit from their children and suffer for their misjudgements. However, they both gain wisdom and insight from their experiences but are ultimately made to die, in line with the idea of the restoration of world order in tragedy.

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Character lear and glouceter In Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, King Lear, the issue of sight and its relevance to clear vision is a recurring theme. Shakespeare’s principal means of portraying this theme is through the characters of Lear and Gloucester. Emotional Disposition – Gloucester and Lear are both similar in vulnerability; neither can recognise this trait in themselves. Lear thinks that “nature” has to be controlled and commanded, where Gloucester fears and mistrusts it.

Suffering – Although Lear can physically see, he is blind in the sense that he lacks insight, understanding, and direction. In contrast, Gloucester becomes physically blind but gains the type of vision that Lear lacks. It is evident from these two characters that clear vision is not derived solely from physical sight. Lear’s failure to understand this is the principal cause of his demise, while Gloucesterlearns to achieve clear vision, and consequently avoids a fate similar to Lear’s.

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Gloucester’s character undergoes more of a physical change as he discovers truth; Lear goes though more of a psychological change, from fantasy to reality, and from insanity to sanity. The similarity is that both men are obviously not mentally stable. FAMILY – Lear banishes his favourite daughter on account of her response to his question of love, and Gloucester gives his estate to his bastard son, Edmund, because of a forged letter from his favourite son “Edgar”. King Lear has a few fits that make people question his sanity, while Gloucester blames the kingdom’s troubles on superstitious things like eclipses.

Another similarity between the two characters is their blindness of deceit from their children. The two men, in addition, seem to both be old and senile. Like Gloucester, Lear is blind to all the evils of his life and his surroundings until it is far too late. For both Lear and Gloucester, affliction brings insight, more valuable than sight. Gloucester is also deceived by his fraudulent, bastard son into thinking that Edgar wants him dead, when in fact, in both cases, it is the exact opposite.

The characters of Lear and Gloucester die in a state of joy, but they nevertheless die in the end result. Both men have suffered for their follies and misjudgements, and yet both have gained wisdom – patience, insight, love – from their experiences. Both are courageous enough to triumph over their weaknesses. Yet, despite the insight gained through suffering and pain, they are made to die in the end. This is in line with the idea of the “restoration of world order” in tragedy

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Differences of King Lear and Gloucester. (2016, Nov 27). Retrieved from


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