King Lear Essay, Research Paper
The Development Of Gloucester, Albany and Lear
People going through changes throughout their life is a universally known
concept. In many novels the authors attempt to trace the development of the characters.
By showing the evolution of the characters is what sometimes determines the quality of
the literary piece. It is on the agenda of great writing critics to critique the authors?
development of characters. Many lessons have been taught on the tragedy King Lear, by
William Shakespeare, because of Shakespeare?s superb development of his characters.
He traces the psychological evolution of the Earl of Gloucester, the Duke of Albany and
King Lear; from being irrational to sensible, subservient to self-determined and oblivious
to observant respectfully.
A clear evolution takes place in the nature of the Earl of Gloucester from the
beginning of the story until the end as he changes from being irrational to sensible. When
the story begins the earl is introduced as an irrational noble. The reason he is branded as
irrational is because of his sudden alignment with his bastard son, Edmund, against his
loyal and loving son, Edgar. Despite being taken cared by Edgar for the past seven years,
the instant Gloucester is given a forged letter by Edmund revealing a conspiracy against
the Earl by Edgar, he is instantly outraged against the legitimate son and allies himself
with Edmund. The fact that Gloucester does not attempt to rationally find the truth about
the conspiracy he is introduced as a foolish person. By not rationally justifying the
situation even further shows his absurdity for it shows how he is unable to see through
the cynicism of Edmund. However as the story lines develop so does Glocester. Towards
the end of the story Glocester strives to discover the accuracy of the letter and plot. After
concluding that all this time he had been wrong he is blinded by an enemy of his. His
blindness symbolically shows the final phase of Gloucester?s evolution for it strengthens
the fact that he is now logical and perceptive. Hence Shakespeare traces the development
of Gloucester from being irrational to sensible.
Shakespeare also traces the psychological progression of the Duke of Albany. As
the husband of Goneril, one of Lear?s daughters, his wife?s strong ambitious nature
overwhelms him so much that he follows his wife full heatedly. As the story begins
Albany is participating in his wife?s plan to rule Britain. When Albany says to Goneril, ?I
fear your disposition?(3.4) one can immediately see how Albany?s unassertive nature is
engulfed by Goneril?s aggressive character. As the story progresses so does Albany.
When he says to Edgar, one of the people standing in the way of his wife?s plans,? Let
sorrow split my heart, if ever I did hate thee or thy father,?(4.3) his subservient nature is
released for this quote shows how since he apologizes to his wife?s enemy he does not
tolerate his wife?s authority over him. He now becomes more self-determined. He acts on
his own will instead of taking orders from his spouse. Clearly Albany transforms from a
subordinate character to a self-determined one.
Probably the character that evolves the most dramatically is King Lear, the king
of Britain, for he develops from being oblivious to becoming observant. Because he
allows his ego and external things to determine his decisions Lear is characterized as
oblivious for it shows how he allows those factors to prohibit him from making decisions
based on the facts. In a beginning scene Lear holds a contest between his three daughters
to determine which one of them would be his successor. The way Lear would determine
who would take over was to see which one of the girls most strongly expressed their love
for him a true sign of an egotistical person. Two of the daughters sarcastically but
believably told their father how much they loved him in order to receive his approval.
The youngest, however, told him that his contest was immoral and that she would not
?act? for him as her sisters did. It is necessary to note that prior to this scene that
daughter, Cordelia, was most loved by Lear and most suitable for the position. Once she
does not play up to him like her sisters, she is disowned by Lear. He then crowns the
two other sisters as co-rulers of Britain out of spite to Cordelia. Clearly his deflated ego
drives Lear to act foolishly and therefore he is oblivious to the prior loyalty of Cordelia.
Once he makes his final decision he immediately realizes that he has made a big mistake.
In his discussion to Albany, Lear, self-pitied, says ? Detested kit! thou liest… How ugly
didst thou show in Cordelia… Oh Lear, Lear Lear …let thy folly in?(1.5) proving that Lear
immediately recognizes his mistake for he is saying that the two daughters were only
taunting their father when they participated in his contest and only in it to take over the
kingdom. Lear?s awareness of his error goes so far as him sincerely trying to rectify it.
Clearly Shakespeare shows the evolution of Lear?s character from being unaware and
oblivious to his situation to his becoming perceptive and cognizant to his predicament.
In conclusion Shakespeare develops the characters of Gloucester, Albany and
Lear: from irrational to sensible, subservient to self-determined and from oblivious to
observant respectively. One of the reasons King Lear has been considered one of the
greatest literary pieces is because Shakespeare superbly shows the development of these
characters. It is the progression of his characters that makes the tragedy so interesting and
enjoyable. The concept that people go through changes thoughout their life is an
underlying theme throughout the play.