I have been thinking about King Lear (I may go see the McKellen on on the big screen tomorrow and will certainly see the Hopkins All-Star soon) and about Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump. I don't think I've come to a real Take at this point, but I've got some associations rattling around in my head.
I think that Lear and Gloucester have always thought of themselves as consequential, responsible people—pretty much as the epitome of that sort of person, who makes Big Decisions and who shoulders the responsibility of the outcomes of those decisions. And yet, it comes as a huge surprise and shock when the consequences of their bad decisions (sexual, political, child-rearing, diplomatic) cause them actual personal suffering.
When they have been destroyed—destitute, alone, blind, mad, exposed, friendless—they find each other. That heartbreaking scene is so powerful in part because Shakespeare somehow gets that masculine terror that they have been made to suffer personally the consequences of their actions, which they never expected and still feel is somehow not right. They can only dimly understand it, and even that dim understanding breaks the entire universe they have always known.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,