Gloucester is a victim of his son Edmund who tricks him into thinking that his son Edgar is plotting to kill him. In one of the most memorable scenes of the play Gloucester is also a victim of Cornwall and Regan and Goneril. Their cruel treatment escalates as they pluck out his eyes. Great pity is aroused for him after the blinding scene and he then desires to commit suicide and is only saved by a trick played on him by Edgar.
While Gloucester suffers, some regard this as a consequence of his poor treatment of Edmund. He jokes about the way his son was conceived. He also fails to identify the true son as he falls for Edmund’s plat so easily. His role as a father parallels the role of Lear and for both the audience so the errors and the consequences.
Gloucester is blinded in one of the most horrific scenes in Shakespeare’s plays. His eyes are gouged out by Cornwall for helping the King. However, it can be argued that the blindness was evident before this. He has been tricked by Edmund who suggested Edgar had plotted against him. Gloucester’s failure to see the truth about his sons resulted in Edgar fleeing. Interestingly it is after the physical blinding that Gloucester can see the mistakes that he has made and he even states “I stumbled when I saw”.
- Is Gloucester a sympathetic character?
- Your answer should include: Blinded / Poor / Father / Manipulated / Easily / Fooled