Blindness and Sight - Lack of Insight in King Lear Essays

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Blindness as Lack of Insight in King Lear

Blindness can normally be defined as the inability of the eye to see, but according to Shakespeare, blindness is not only a physical impairment, but also 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 characters through which Shakespeare portrays his theme of mental blindness, that blindness which was the primary cause of their poor judgment and which led them all to make regrettable decisions.

The most blind of all was undoubtedly King Lear, even though his physical vision was normal. Because of Lear's high position in society, he was supposed to be able to
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"Do not laugh at me; / For (as I am a man) I think this lady / To be my child Cordelia" (IV.vii.77-79). He realized just how wicked his two eldest daughters 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 her father was so great and so true that she couldn't express it in the words he wanted to hear. Unfortunately, Lear's blindness had already set them both on the pathway that would lead to their deaths.

Gloucester was another example of a character that suffered from an awful case of blindness. Gloucester's blindness deprived 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 possibly being after his earldom. Near the end of the play, Gloucester finally regained his sight and realized that Edgar, disguised as Poor Tom, had saved his life and loved him all along (Cavell 71). He
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