Horror Scenes in Shakespeare: “Out, vile jelly!” The Eye-Gouging of Gloucester.

A black and white image of Shakespeare with the heading 'Horror in Shakespeare'.

I remember the first time I saw ‘King Lear’ on stage. I was in my final year of high school and my English teacher took us to see the play.

It’s fair to say I was more than impressed, and I particularly remember this scene. It’s one thing to read it on the page, and another entirely to see it brought to life on the stage.

I hope you enjoy Shaekspeare Nerd’s post on this most macabre scene from King Lear: the eye-gouging of Gloucester.

Shakespeare Nerd

There is one particularly macabre scene in King Lear where Lear’s daughter Regan and her husband, Cornwall, presided over the punishment of Gloucester for his “treason” in supporting Lear, the rightful king, after their rejection of him.

They are in Gloucester’s own home, no less, when they detain him, bind him to a chair and accuse him of treason. He has no idea of their evil intent, and reminds them more than once that they are his guests – and terrible ones at that.

Regan yanks hair out of Gloucester’s beard, and when Cornwall gouges out one of his eyes, presumably with a dagger, she picks up a sword and kills the servant who objects, then demands that Gloucester’s other eye be taken out, too. On doing so, Cornwall utters the words, “Out, vile jelly!” This really emphasises the vulnerability and delicate nature of the tissues and substance of the…

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One thought on “Horror Scenes in Shakespeare: “Out, vile jelly!” The Eye-Gouging of Gloucester.

  1. Ahhh. You’re reminding me of my Beginning Shakespeare class at University where I realized his works were actually written in English. I like the bits you post, especially this one!

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