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TOPIC: The complexity of the character of Gloucester

The complexity of the character of Gloucester 1 year 2 months ago #6760

Regarding to the character of the Earl of Gloucester I thought about two questions:
• Why does Gloucester believe Edmund’s accusations against Edgar without concrete suspicions and without any discussion with Edgar?
• Why does Shakespeare make Gloucester suffer this cruel fate of loosing his eyes by being blinded?
I suppose we can find the answer in Gloucester’s own character, which has a part of Edmund and a part of Edgar.
Edmund represents the son of Gloucester’s illegitimate relationship, and he is the devious, scheming and egocentric part of the complex character of Gloucester. Edgar is the legal son and reflects the honest, reliable and loyal part of Gloucester’s character.
There is the fight between the two parts of a character; we could say the fight between good and evil as a main question of mankind. In Shakespeare’s play Gloucester is the complex character in this tension between the two poles.
At first evil ideas, represented by Edmund, overwhelm Gloucester’s thinking and acting.
Only after he is blinded he realizes his actual blindness and he says in Act 4, Scene1:
”I have no way, and therefore want no eyes:
I stumbled when I saw. Full oft ‘tis seen
Our means secure us and our mere defects
Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,
The food of thy abused father’s wrath,
Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
I’d say I had eyes again.”
In this situation the part of Edgar begins to take (again) the control of Gloucester’s mind. It is a long and hard way represented by the scenes in which Edgar leads his blind father and prevents him from suicide, teaching him to accept his fate. In the end of the play it is Gloucester’s son Edgar, the honourable character, who “wins” and who is worth to rule a kingdom. Edgar speaks the last words in the tragedy:
“The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.”

Annette Schmitter
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The complexity of the character of Gloucester 1 year 2 months ago #6763

  • Justin Gray
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In response to the first question I think Shakespeare is making a statement how extreme old age makes you "simple minded" to the point where life isn't worth living because you are bound to make unwise decisions. When the last line of the play says "We that are young shall never see so much nor live so long" I think there is an understood 'hopefully' in that final statement.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Annette Schmitter

The complexity of the character of Gloucester 1 year 2 months ago #6764

Yes, thank you very much.
Thinking about the main reason of Gloucester’s anger about Edgar I read it in this fatal letter (of Edmund) in the beginning of the Play. Gloucester reads it aloud: ”This policy and reverence of age, makes the world bitter to the best of our times, keeps our fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish them…..(Act 1, Scene 2)
Probably Gloucester suspects these problems of age himself and Edmund hits a weak spot in his father.
Do you think that the development of Gloucester in the Play is similar to the development of King Lear, whose fool tells him:”If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’d have thee beaten for being old before thy time.” And: ”Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.” (Act 1, Scene 5)?
Annette Schmitter
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