Theme Of Blindness In King Lear

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Within the Shakespearean play, King Lear, blindness hinders characters from making just and moral judgements. The rash decisions made by each character have a strong influence on character progression and their downfalls within the play. The central idea of blindness as a tragic flaw is portrayed throughout many different characters. Most frequently, it is easily depicted within King Lear, Gloucester and Edmund where all three characters are confronted with battles when coming face to face with family. Lear’s conflict with family pertains to his two disloyal daughters and the fact that they constantly demine him. Gloucester battles with his two sons, Edgar and Edmund, when dealing with legitimacy versus illegitimacy. Finally, Edmund internally struggles with himself as being an illegitimate son and an outcast of society. Through their processes of realization, they endure many hardships and act on impulse rather than logic and reason. It is through these characters where King Lear highlights how impulsivity leads to blindness.
King Lear is one main character that makes impulsive decisions without reflecting on the possible consequences. King Lear specifically makes rash decisions while being blind to the fact that the love from his two daughters, Goneril and Reagan, is fake. Within the first scene of the play, Lear asks his three daughters, Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia, “which of you shall we say doth love us most?” (1.1.52). This exact line is the very beginning of Lear’s blindness. Readers are able to recognize that Lear possesses a great amount of power as he refers to himself using the royal ‘we’. Throughout the rest of the play, readers see his deterioration of power until it becomes obsolete. Lear acts unwisely as he values the words that comes from his daughter’s mouths rather than the true meaning behind them. This is also represented when Cordelia simply answers her father’s question with “nothing, my lord” (1.1.92). This response from Cordelia causes Lear to feel humiliated and banishes Cordelia as he believes that “nothing will come of nothing” (1.1.95). Ironically, the word “nothing” carries a crucial meaning as it is associated with bad events and is the opposite of what Lear intends it to mean.
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