Analysis of the Sub-Plot in King Lear

Analysis of the Sub-Plot in King Lear

  • Submitted By: ameliadonges
  • Date Submitted: 03/10/2009 8:14 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 2676
  • Page: 11
  • Views: 1

King Lear, hailed by critics as Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, is a thematic play which questions the natural chain of order and the consequences of events which in turn disrupt this chain. The play revolves around Lear’s division of his kingdom amongst his daughters, one of whom (Cordelia) he rejects after she fails to declare her love publicly for him: Lear understands Cordelia’s lack of words to represent her lack of feelings, but to Cordelia it is her silence and her refusal to stoop to the level of her selfish and unscrupulous sisters that portrays her love for her father. After he splits his kingdom up amongst his other two daughters, Lear finds himself a sad, old, powerless man, contrary to the power he believed he would keep after his ‘retirement’ from his status of monarch. His decline leads him into madness, and eventually culminates in his death just after the renewal of his relationship with his daughter.

The play is based on the fall of King Lear, however the ‘Gloucester sub plot’ is of much importance to the text and to the plot relating Lear. The Earl of Gloucester has two sons in the play; Edgar, the legitimate son, is the one who is to receive his father’s land in his inheritance, while Edmund, the illegitimate son, will receive nothing. Edmund deceitfully implicates Edgar in a scheme of patricide, and when Gloucester finds out Edgar is declared an outlaw, to be killed on sight. Edmund thus manages to gain his father’s favour, and his inheritance. This subplot is mixed with the Lear main plot to create a greater awareness of each individual plot by creating a contrast between storylines which enables the audience to compare and understand the different situations the characters find themselves in.

We see the beginning of this resentment right from the start of the play. The very first exchange in King Lear is between Gloucester and Kent, the king’s advisor, talking about Edmund, who is there. Gloucester talks quite openly about Edmund’s...

Similar Essays