King Lear

Power vs. Intelligence

In Shakespeare's King Lear, the characters in a position of power are most often the ones who are blindest to the truth. Only after losing that power are they able to gain a clear understanding of the events occurring around them and to realize who their true friends and enemies are. The converse is true as well. Those characters with no power are usually the ones who can see the true motives of other characters. This inverse relationship between power and knowledge is most clearly reflected in four characters: Gloucester, King Lear, the Fool, and Kent.

In Gloucester's situation, his power can be equated with his vision. A member of the court, Gloucester has the noble title of earl. In this high position, he is not aware of the motivations behind the actions of those around him. His own son, Edmund, deceives him. Angry at being the illegitimate son and greedy for inheritance, Edmund convinces his father that his other son, Edgar, is plotting to kill him. This does not require much effort since Gloucester quickly believes Edmund. Although they plan to meet again to determine whether Edgar really is conspiring against his father, it seems as if Gloucester already believes Edgar to be guilty. This can be seen in the way he...

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