King Lear And Blindness Essay

This essay has a total of 853 words and 5 pages.

King Lear And Blindness

In Shakespearean terms, blinds means a completely different thing. Blindness can normally
be defined as the inability of the eye to see, but according to Shakespeare, blindness is
not a physical quality, but a mental flaw some people possess. Shakespeare's most dominant
theme in his play King Lear is that of blindness. King Lear, Gloucester, and Albany are
three prime examples Shakespeare incorporates this theme into. Each of these character's
blindness was the primary cause of the bad decisions they made; decisions which all of
them would eventually come to regret.


The blindest bat of all was undoubtedly King Lear. Because of Lear's high position in
society, he was supposed to be able to distinguish the good from the bad; unfortunately,
his lack of sight prevented him to do so. Lear's first act of blindness came at the
beginning of the play. First, he was easily deceived by his two eldest daughters' lies,
then, he was unable to see the reality of Cordelia's true love for him, and as a result,
banished her from his kingdom with the following words:


"..................................for we
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
That face of her again. Therefore be gone
Without our grace, our love, our benison."
(Act I, Sc I, Ln 265-267)

Lear's blindness also caused him to banish one of his loyal followers, Kent. Kent was able
to see Cordelia's true love for her father, and tried to protect her from her blind
father's irrationality. After Kent was banished, he created a disguise for himself and was
eventually hired by Lear as a servant. Lear's inability to determine his servant's true
identity proved once again how blind Lear actually was. As the play progressed, Lear's
eyesight reached closer to 20/20 vision. He realized how wicked his two eldest daughters
really were after they locked him out of the castle during a tremendous storm. More
importantly, Lear saw through Cordelia's lack of flattering and realized that her love for
him was so great that she couldn't express it into words. Unfortunately, Lear's blindness
ended up costing Cordelia her life and consequently the life of himself.


Gloucester was another example of a character who suffered from an awful case of
blindness. Gloucester's blindness denied him of the ability to see the goodness of Edgar
and the evil of Edmund. Although Edgar was the good and loving son, Gloucester all but
disowned him. He wanted to kill the son that would later save his life. Gloucester's
blindness began when Edmund convinced him by the means of a forged letter that Edgar was
plotting to kill him. Gloucester's lack of sight caused him to believe Edmund was the good
son and prevented him from pondering the idea of Edmund being after his earldom. Near the
end of the play, Gloucester finally regained his sight and realized that Edgar saved his
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