“There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
Looks fearfully in the confinèd deep.
Bring me but to the very brim of it,
And I’ll repair the misery thou dost bear
With something rich about me. From that place
I shall no leading need.”
In act four of King Lear, I would like to focus on the side event pertaining to Gloucester, rather than the main conflicts of the play. This passage conveys a strong message that can be explained through a psychoanalytic criticism lens. Before diving into a specific lens, this passage has an overall meaning that explains Gloucester’s state of mind. Even though he was about to commit suicide, he wasn’t just thinking about himself. He explains how he will compensate Edgar for his troubles, which demonstrates a sense of compassion. Even though he was about to end his life, there wasn’t any erratic behavior taking place. I felt a sense of calmness as he reflects back on this life. This to me is somewhat of a tag team event, so to speak. Edgar had Gloucester’s back and vice versa. Edgar could have easily fulfilled Gloucester’s wishes to take him to the edge of the cliff. Instead he was watching out for him and led him to a safe area. The location is one of the key pieces to this part in the play in my opinion. Without an actual cliff, Gloucester will get to play an influential roll in the rest of the play.
For some background information, I researched how losing a sense, such as sight, can influence one’s ability to fulfill life to the fullest. Listed is a great website that explains in depth how other senses are heightened when one is gone. http://www.livestrong.com/article/268986-how-does-becoming-blind-affect-other-senses/
Even with the ability to still explore the world through touch and other senses, I believe he felt a sense of hopelessness. From the betrayal of Edmund to the gouging out of his eyes, he had all he could take. Having his sight taken away allowed for him to take a chill pill and just reflect back on his journey through life. I don’t believe Gloucester has any regrets about what happened. Obviously you wouldn’t volunteer to lose your eyes, but it happened for a worthy cause in his eyes (no pun intended).
With this additional research, I was able to understand Gloucester in a new perspective. This changes my understanding of the text by adding to my interpretations of what Gloucester was doing.
I also want to explore how his ego plays a role in the process of decision making. Most people would say that a man about to jump off a cliff is pretty much insane. I would have to think otherwise. Gloucester was in his right state of mind. I believe he consciously weighed the pros and cons of committing suicide. I believe he weighed his options and picked one based on his life experiences; such as his experiences with the king, his relationship with Kent, and the current state of his eyes. Even though this meant suicide, this was a rational and well thought out decision based on the circumstances at hand.
In conclusion, Gloucester doesn’t always do what’s best for himself, but is always looking out for others that are around him. This demonstrates his strong morals of doing what is right and influences his action throughout the play.