King Lear Subplot Essay

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In the rivetingly tragic play "King Lear" by Shakespeare, there is a sizable amount of themes that ricochets between the subplot and main plot. In an attempt to universalize the travesties endured by the protagonist and tragic hero, Shakespeare incorporates a significant subplot into King Lear. Although the focus clearly lies on the tragic plight of King Lear, the secondary plot involving Gloucester and his offspring mirrors and dramatizes Lear's hopeless situation. Both Lear and Gloucester misjudge their offspring and respond rashly to inaccurate information; the subsequent rejection of those closest to them leads to a chaotic sequence of irreversible events. The characters that purposefully instigate the inevitable downfall of both Lear and …show more content…
The similarities between the two are obvious: in each, a father is deceived by a child; there is jealousy between siblings; a father disowns one of his children; a father is abandoned and left to fend for himself. King Lear is the only one of Shakespeare’s plays where the sub-plot merely repeats the theme of the main plot. I personally feel that the most obvious themes that the subplot reflected and reinforced were the themes of madness, filial ingratitude and …show more content…
Lear and Gloucester suffer in similar ways and their respective children are either guilty of similar unkindness or victims of sibling rivalry. If, as Bradley claims, it is the case that King Lear is the only play where the main plot and sub-plot mirror each other so closely, presumably it is not just by chance. Many critics, and audiences, refer to the unrelieved sense of cruelty and bleakness that pervades the play. Madmen lead the blind, siblings kill each other and fathers are denied the affections of those they love most. The cruelty inflicted on Lear in the final scene, where he seems to believe that Cordelia may somehow still be alive, is heart-wrenching. It seems as if, by duplicating the events and mood of the main plot, Shakespeare wanted simply to impress on us that, of the various different world views presented in the play, the one he believed in personally was the deeply pessimistic view of Gloucester: ‘as flies to wanton boys are we to the gods – they kill us for their

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