Blindness in King Lear

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Throughout William Shakespeare's King Lear, many characters make mistakes that cost them greatly. The characters are all blind to something, misinterpreting other character's actions and emotions. Their disregard results in tragedy in the world around them and brings about the rise and fall of the kingdom of Lear. In the first scene, the audience sees Lear proclaiming to his three daughters that in order to be awarded their dowries they must first express their love accordingly to him. Goneril uses wit, deceit and Lear naivety to create such an indulgent speech of which no father could disapprove: "I love you more than word can wield the matter; Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty, Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare, No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;... Beyond all matter of so much I love you" (1.1.55-61) At this point in the play, the audience is introduced to Goneril's true personality. It is not until we hear all three daughters' speeches that the audience fully understands Lear's metaphorical blindness. Lear misinterprets their words, thinking that Goneril and Regan both love him dearly and Cordelia does not. It is Lear's state of blindness that stops him from understanding and accepting Cordelia's expression of her love. "Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again." (1.1.90) Lear cannot see that Cordelia actually loves him the most. Cordelia's speech challenges Lear and portrays him as being less powerful than was implied earlier in the play. It is strange the way Shakespeare makes the audience aware of Cordelia's knowledge of Lear's blindness, yet she never says anything to Lear about it. This misinterpretation by Lear costs him dearly by the end of the play. His blindness to his daughter's intentions starts the movement of the Wheel of Fire and the fall of his kingdom. Cordelia's speech is the first point in the play where the audience sees the difference between good and evil in Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Goneril and Regan...
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