King Lear

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Essay on Blindness in King Lear
William Shakespeare's King Lear incorporates many themes, some which are even a recurring pattern throughout the play. The matter of vision and insight, or even the lack of it, is an important theme in this play. This theme is elegantly rendered through the characters of King Lear and Gloucester. The lack of insight or blindness in this play is quite symbolic. Blindness is most often defined as physically lacking deficient in the ability to see. In the case of King Lear, blindness and the lack of vision and insight has a different meaning. For King Lear, blindness was not a physical problem; instead it was a flaw that he possessed. His blindness to see the truth in a person’s personality and character was clear in the beginning of the play with Cordelia and later on with Kent. Gloucester, on the other hand, was initially blinded also because of his personal flaw to see what is really there. He eventually did become physically blind, but later attains vision in a different way, vision that Lear does not see or ever attain until it is too late.

From the very beginning of the play, Lear’s lack of insight is evident. His sight to see other people’s true character is clearly blurred. Lear has trouble telling apart between the truth and lies. In Act I, Lear asks his three daughters who loves him the most. He is unable to see the truth in Goneril and Regan because they cover their true feelings with a disguise, fooling Lear to think they love him the most. Lear knows in his heart that Cordelia loves him dearly, but his lack of insight fails to see Cordelia’s true feelings as she responds,

Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth, I love your Majesty
According to my bond, no more nor less. (1.1.93-95)

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To Lear, Cordelia is not telling him that she loves him. Lear does not understand Cordelia’s words; he misunderstands her and is unable to see the love...
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