King Lear 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 Shakespeares 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 Gloucesters 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 Lears daughters, his wifes strong ambitious nature overwhelms him so much that he follows his wife full heatedly.
As the story begins Albany is participating in his wifes plan to rule Britain. When Albany says to Goneril, I fear your disposition(3.4) one can immediately see how Albanys unassertive nature is engulfed by Gonerils aggressive character. As the story progresses so does Albany. When he says to Edgar, one of the people standing in the way of his wifes 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 wifes enemy he does not tolerate his wifes 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. Lears awareness of his error goes so far as him sincerely trying to rectify it.
Clearly Shakespeare shows the evolution of Lears 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. English Essays.