The Parallels between the Main Plot and Sub Plot
1.) The characters in the main plot are reflected by the characters in the sub-plot. In both plots there is a patriarch, Lear, who is reflected to an extent by Gloucester. Both characters are essentially good with Lear, a tragic hero, and Gloucester, whose flaw is that of a lesser man. Cordelia is reflected by Edgar as the good child in each plot, while Goneril and Regan, mirrored by Edmund in the sub-plot, represent evil.
2.) Lear initially believes and trusts two evil daughters and banishes his loyal daughter, Cordelia. Likewise Gloucester trusts his evil offspring Edmund and disowns his loyal son Edgar therefore both men make the same mistake
3.) Both Lear and Gloucester are betrayed and mistreated by those they treat well and are forgiven by the children they have wronged. Lear is consoled by Cordelia, Gloucester by Edgar.
4.) Both Lear and Gloucester die in similar ways - a mixture of joyfulness and extreme sadness. Gloucesters joy is brought on by the fact that he has been reconciled with Edgar. While Lears is in the false belief that Cordelia is still alive. Both mens deaths are seen as a relief from the cruelty of the world.
5.) The good offspring in both plots are unflinching in their loyalty to their fathers, despite being wronged. The constant love and devotion of Cordelia and Edgar triumphs in the end over the evil of Goneril, Regan and Edmund.
6.) Both Lear and Gloucester become more compassionate as a result of their experiences. In the storm scene, Lear shows compassion for the "naked wretches", while Gloucester when he encounters Edgar in the guise of Poor Tom, suggests there should be a more even distribution of wealth in the world.
7.) Both Gloucester and Lear develop morally and spiritually as a result of intense suffering. Each man is wiser at the end of the play than he was at the beginning. Each recognises the moral flaw of his liaison with Edmunds mother, while Lear overcomes his arrogance and pride, by eventually kneeling to beg forgiveness from Cordelia.
8.) After his physical blindness, Gloucester recognises his moral blindness "I stumbled when I saw".
9.) There is also a notable contrast between Gloucester and Lear. They suffer in different ways. Gloucester, who has committed sins of the flesh, a sensual sinner, is punished physically, being deprived of one of his senses. Lears punishment is more complex, his sin was psychological and his punishment involves undergoing a moral education - a period of derangement, followed by the acquiring of wisdom and finally the enduring agony of Cordelias death.
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