King Lear – Theme of Blindness
In Shakespearean terms, blinds means a whole 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 flatterings 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 life disguised as Poor Tom and loved him all along. He realized that Edmund planned to take over the earldom and that he was the evil son of the two. Gloucester’s famous line: “I stumbled when I saw” (Act IV, Sc I, Ln 20-21) was ironic. His inability to see the realities of his sons occurred when he had his physical sight but was mentally blind; but his ability to see the true nature of his sons occurred after having his eyes plucked out by the Duke of Cornwall. Fortunately, the consequences of Gloucester’s blindness throughout the play was minimal, after all, he was the only one to die as a result of his tragic flaw.
Albany was another character suffering from the classic case of blindness, but luckily for him, he survived his battle. Albany’s case of blindness was purely a result of the love he had for Goneril. Although he disapproved of Goneril’s actions, he would only mildly argue his case. When Goneril forced Lear to reduce his army so that he could stay in their castle, Albany protested: “ I cannot be so partial, Goneril, To the great love I bear You -” (Act I, Sc IV, Ln 309-310) Albany’s deep devotion to Goneril blinded him from the evil she possessed. His inability to realize how greedy and mean Goneril was after she flattered Lear with a bunch of lies and then kicked him out of their home, just goes to show you how much Albany loved Goneril.
Albany was also blind to the fact that Goneril was cheating on him and that she was plotting to kill him. Fortunately, Edgar came across a cure for Albany’s blindness. A note outlining Goneril’s evil plans was all Albany needed to see. Finally, Albany recognized what a devil he was married to and for once let out his emotions when he said: “O Goneril, You are not worth the dust which the rude wind Blows in your face!” (Act IV, Sc II, Ln 29-31) Unlike Lear and Gloucester, Albany didn’t suffer much during his bout with blindness. Not only did he survive his battle, but he lived to remain the ruler of what was once Lear’s kingdom.
King Lear is a play written by
William Shakespeare that focuses on the relationships of many characters, some good, some evil. This is a great tragedy that is full of injustice at the beginning and the restoring of justice towards the end. The good are misjudged as evil and the evil are accepted as good. It is not until the end of the play that the righteous people are recognized as such. There is great treachery and deceit involved in the hierarchy of English rule. The great mistake in this play was made by Lear when he decided to divide up his kingdom to his three daughters. In order to determine which share each should get, he had each of his daughters give testimonies of love for him.
Cordelia, the youngest, refused to go overboard with her statement. When asked for her testimony, she simply replied, «Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more no less.»(I, i, ln 91-93) Lear becomes enraged and casts her off saying, «Here I disclaim all my paternal care, propinquity and property of blood, and as a stranger to my heart and me hold this from thee for ever.»(I, i, ln 113-116). Some think that Cordelia was prideful, or even a fool in her response, but I believe she was simply being honest and true. Another mistake that was made in the course of the play was by the Earl of Gloucester. After being tricked by his bastard son, Edmund, into believing that his other son, Edgar, was plotting to kill him, he put all his faith in Edmund, which would eventually lead to his demise. Besides believing that Cordelia was being true and honest to her father, I think that Lear and the Earl of Gloucester were fools, regarding the banishments of their righteous children. After reading this play, I found it hard to believe that Cordelia was being anything but true in her simple proclamation of love for her father. I can't believe that Shakespeare was trying to portray her as a spoiled, prideful child. I do not believe she was foolish in her decision to restrain from trying to persuade him into giving her a larger portion of his kingdom. I think it was apparent early that Cordelia was struggling with what she was going to say to her father. In her asides she says, «What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent»(I, i, ln 62), and after Regan spoke, «Then poor Cordelia; And yet not so, since I am sure my love's more ponderous than my tongue.»(I, i, ln 76-78). It is obvious that she loves her father, but she can't express it the way in which Lear wants her to. Because of this, she is disowned and sent away to France.
The King even refers to her as, «Unfriended, new adopted to our hate, dow'red with our curse, and strangered with our oath.»(I, i, ln 203-204). Cordelia's love for her father was shown further when she received the letters concerning Lear's mental state after being mistreated by his two other daughters. It was said that, «now and then an ample tear trilled down her delicate cheek.»(IV, iii, ln 12-13). Cordelia then orders for some of the French soldiers to bring Lear to her so that she can look after him before the war between Britain and the French soldiers begins. Her love was further displayed when she says, «But love, dear love, and our aged father's right. Soon may I hear and see him!»(IV, iv, ln 28-29). Because of all of this, I firmly believe that Cordelia truly loved her father and was only being honest when she refused to profess her love for him in order to rule a portion of Britain. Besides believing that Cordelia was true in her response, I also think that Lear was acting as a fool when he disowned his only loving daughter. He made a monumental mistake when he handed over British rule to his two evil daughters, Regan and Goneril.
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King lear act and scene summary Lear, the aging king of Britain, decides to step down from the throne and divide his kingdom evenly among his three daughters. First, however, he puts his daughters through a test, asking each to tell him how much she loves him. Goneril and Regan, Lear's older daughters, give their father flattering answers. But Cordelia, Lear's Motifs in the play «King Lear» by Shakespeare Shakespeare uses many motifs to expand on the themes of the story. His most-used motif revolves around filial responsibility. Each of the two plots contains characters who betray their fathers. Goneril and Regan flatter their father, King Lear, and then betray him. The drastic change that occurred in their attidtude towards their father is clearly Motifs in the play «King Lear» by Shakespeare Shakespeare uses many motifs to expand on the themes of the story. His most-used motif revolves around filial responsibility. Each of the two plots contains characters who betray their fathers. Goneril and Regan flatter their father, King Lear, and then betray him. The drastic change that occurred in their attidtude towards their father is clearly Comparison: Oedipus The King And King Lear Comparative Essay Oedipus the King and King Lear The Theme of Blindness March 22, 2000 BJ Wheatley In Sophocles and Shakespearean terms, blindness means a completely different thing. Blindness can normally be defined as the inability of the eye to see, but according to both plays; blindness is not always a physical quality, but a Shakespeare’ King Lear is a story of treachery and deceit The villainy of the play knows no bounds. Family lines are ignored in an overwhelming quest for power. This villainy is epitomized in the character of Edmund, bastard son of the Earl of Gloucester. Edmund is displayed as a « most toad-spotted traitor.» When we first see Edmund, he is already knee deep in treachery.