King Lear tells of an old, senile ruler who, having given up his title, divides his land between his two villainous daughters, and his third daughter is exiled. Parallel to Lears situation is the sub-plot of Gloucester, whose bastard son betrays him and his legitimate son Edgar. Shakespeare undoubtedly intended for the characters of Gloucester and
Both characters are quick to anger, and quick to act, later lamenting the decisions they made.
Gloucester and Lear both make impetuous decisions regarding their children, being blind to the treachery of others. Lear is blind to the malice of Goneril and Regan: They say they love him, merely to get his land. They even lock him out of Gloucesters castle during a storm. Like Lear, Gloucester instantly believes the letter he is shown, being blind to the lies Edmund tells about Edgar. Edmund further manipulates the situation, betraying his father, and consequently Gloucester has his eyes ripped out. When Lear comes upon him, Gloucester being then literally blind, he astutely observes that a man may see how [the] world goes with no eyes(IV.vi.ll.146-47).
Luckily for Gloucester, he is recovered by Edgar, who bec[omes] his guide sav[ing] him from despair, using various disguises. This is echoed by Cordelia, who comes to England with the French army to recover Lear from his mad wanderings in the countryside. Cordelia does save her father, just as Edgar defends his father from Oswald. Both characters are rescued by their favoured children, though later they both die.
It is clear that many similarities exist between Gloucester and