Theme Of Blindness In King Lear

1062 Words5 Pages
In King Lear, blindness is more than just the lack of physical sight, but a lack of judgement and understanding of others’ true intentions. Much of the suffering in King Lear stems from impetuous decisions and beliefs. Both King Lear and the Earl of Gloucester were blinded in their own respective ways. Lear’s blindness was more moral, leading to poor decisions that led to suffering, while Gloucester’s blindness was ignorance to his sons’ true intentions, leading to suffering as well. King Lear’s naivete began at the beginning of the play, as he looked past the true intentions of his daughters due to his pride. He fails to see that his most beloved daughter, Cordelia, loves him though she will not play into his selfish and narcissistic behaviour. Out of anger, he disowns her and banishes the loyal Kent when he defends Cordelia. Lear is blinded by his status as king, treating family difficulties as if they were kingly matters and having a lack of understanding of others. Even when he realizes that his treatment of Cordelia was wrong, he refuses to speak to her about it. He is too prideful and would rather suffer without his daughter than admit he was wrong. This blindness is not limited to his treatment of Cordelia. He also overlooks the intentions of his older daughters, Regan and Goneril. When tested on how much they love him, they flatter Lear in order to get his land and power. They exaggerate their love for him before treating him cruelly as he begins to go insane. Lear had made the rash decision of giving them his land based on his test of flattery. Lear refuses or lacks the ability to see the true intentions of his daughters. His blindness to the truth leads to a great amount of suffering. When he finds that Goneril and Regan had taken advantage of his ignorance, he suffers the feeling of betrayal. This betrayal, most likely along with his age, leads to his madness. As he wanders outside during the storm, he raves about his daughters and how they have made him feel as if he is nothing more than a “poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man” (3.2.20). Though Lear’s madness is tragic, his eyes are opened to his prior lack of judgement. He sees that Cordelia’s honesty differently and he sees his older
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