Blindness In King Lear Essay

1359 words - 6 pages

Blindness is defined as, according to dictionaries, “unable to see and lacking the sense of sight”, but in King Lear, written by William Shakespeare, it has a relatively new definition. Blindness, as Shakespeare portrays, not only a physical inability to see, but also a mental flaw that some characters present in this tragic play. King Lear and the Earl of Gloucester are the two characters who make up the parallel “double plot” of the tragedy caused of their lack of sight, mental blindness. They both undergo a very similar plot and suffer from their false decisions, the ones they feel very remorseful of later on. In other words, such blindness is the root of false decisions that leads to ...view middle of the document...

Though, Lear has a little realization of this point when he says “Our basest beggars are in the poorest thing superfluous. Allow not nature more than nature needs, man’s life is cheap as beast’s… ” (2, 4, 297-300) Moreover, it is also very unwise to do because if by any chance his daughters just wanted his power instead of being his daughter, he would eventually become an old, poor, childless man. All of these events noticeably happened in the play because of his lack of sight about the knowledge of “the Great Chain of Being”. When Goneril and Regan, Lear’s two evil daughters, kick him out into a storm, he has truly become a vulnerable old man with nothing left as he says “Here I stand your slave, / A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man…” (3, 2, 20)
Yet, his blindness of knowledge is not the only factor leads him to this sudden downfall, from the king to a “despised old man”. His lack of sight also prevents him to catch other people’s personality, he judges weather the people are good or evil just by the surface appearances. One example is that Lear banishes his once most beloved daughter, Cordelia. She is the only loyal daughter of Lear’s who has seen her sister’s false love presentations for Lear and does not want to bracket together her true love with their false love as she says “I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more nor less.” (1, 1, 94-95). Irrational of him, Lear cannot see into the words Cordelia said due to his obstinate and impulsive emotion which causes his mental blindness. Additionally, he disowns and banishes her from the kingdom when he states “...for we have no such daughter, nor shall we ever see that face of hers again. Therefore be gone without our grace, our love, our benison." (1, 1. 262-265) Similarly, another loyal person gets banished by Lear. That is, Kent, the loyal Earl who has sufficient insight, is able to see through Cordelia’s character through the conversation. When Lear is enraged by Cordelia, Kent tries to convince Lear, who is too stubborn to open his eyes to see the truth that this daughter truly loves him. Lear responds to Kent’s counterview with, “Out of my sight!” to which Kent suggests: “See better, Lear, and let me still remain”. (1, 1, 160) Ironically, after Kent is banished, he disguises himself and is hired again by Lear as a servant. This is the best example showing Lear’s blindness that he is so gullible. He cannot tell who is really being good or bad to him if they just change their appearances, because of his superficial vision.
Lear’s case presents a paradoxical concept that clear physical sight does not guarantee clear mental sight. In response, the subplot...

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