King Lear - Parrellelism in King Lear


Many twists and turns characterize the television soap operas of today. Subplots are a distinctive trait of these daylight dramas, for they keep audience on the edge of their seats. Subplots keep the material fresh and the audience wanting more. Shakespeare uses secondary plots as a literary device to greatly dramatize the action of the play and to spark a contrast to his underlying themes in King Lear. The secondary plots can incalculably improve the effect of dramatic irony and suspense. The effective usage of subplots in King Lear, as a form of parallelism, exhibits analogous traits of prominent characters. Using such literary device permits the audience to understand the emotions of the essential characters in the play. The magnificent similarity of different plots and characters can illustrate Shakespeare's perfect use of parallelism in King Lear.

Parallelism is greatly enhanced by the use of subplots, for it creates emphasis and suspense. The parallel between Lear and Gloucester displayed in the play cannot possibly be accidental. The subplot of Gloucester corresponds the major plot of Lear. The two fathers have their own loyal legitimate child, and their own evil and disloyal kin. Gloucester and Lear are both honorable men, who have children that return to them in their time of need, and are sightless to the truth. Like Lear, Gloucester is tormented, and his favored child recovers his life; he is tended and healed by the child whom he has wronged. Their sufferings are traceable to their extreme folly and injustice, and to a selfish pursuit of their pleasure. In the early beginning of King Lear, Cordelia says that her love for her father is the love between father and daughter, no more, no less.

"Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more nor less." (Shakespeare.I.i.93-95)

In response, Lear flies into a rage, disowns Cordelia, and divides her share of the kingdom between her two unworthy sisters. Such folly and injustice is encountered by Gloucester in the secondary plot.

"O villain, villain! His very opinion in the
letter. Abhorred villain, unnatural, detested, brut-
ish villain; worse than brutish! Go, sirrah, seek
him. I'll apprehend him. Abominable villain! Where
is he?" (I.ii.80-84)

Gloucester fooled by his wick bastard son, Edmund, attacks Edgar and leaves Edmund to his evil plans. The parallel incidents of Lear and Gloucester add towards the dramatic irony in the audience.

Great Shakespearean plays such as King Lear, often illustrate the theme of good versus evil. The protagonists of this play, Cordelia and Edgar, hide in the beginning of the play and reveal themselves at the end to conquer and defeat Edmund's malicious plans. Cordelia is safely sheltered from her sister's cruelty in France, as Edgar hides and disguises himself in order to escape Edmund's torment. Parallelism between Cordelia and Edgar is very similar. When Lear was suffering from the bitter torture of the storm, Cordelia invaded Albion not to take land, but to allow Cordelia to nurture and recover her father from the cruel abandonment from Regan and Goneril.

"Seek, seek for him,
lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life
that wants the means to lead it." (IV.iv.17-19)

This rescue coincides with Edgar's assistance to his father after his fall down the cliff at Dover.
"Think that the clearest gods, who make them honors
of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee." (IV.vi.73-74)

Edgar compliments God's grace for saving his father's life and thus comforts him afterwards. Cordelia and Edgar, when in need from their parents, appears and rescues them from worst situations. Such parallelism cannot be possibility accidental.

The malevolent scheme in both plots is also displays the parallel betrayal in King Lear. After Lear segregates his power to his two elder daughters, Regan and Goneril, Lear was powerless and fearless in the eyes of both daughters. Immediately after the division of power, both Regan and Goneril intend to reduce their father's remaining authority so that Albion will be under their control.

"Pray you, let's hit to-
gether; if our father carry authority with such dis-
position as he bears, this last surrender of his
will but offend us." (I.i.306-309)

Similar to the sisters' plan, Edmund also decides to inherit all of Gloucester's power, and thus plots Edgar's forged letter with orders to kill his father. After Gloucester leaves and gives orders