King Lear and Blindness

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Vision is a recurring theme throughout Shakespeare's "king Lear", which refers to the metaphorical and physical blindness of the characters. Although bonds and injustice could both be very well considered as themes, they do not alter and influence the overall meaning of the play. The "blindness" displayed by both Gloucester and Lear allow political power to fall into the incorrect hands. In order to understand the theme of Shakespeare's great tragedy, we must explore what is meant by "Vision" or lack of it.

Gloucester is the example of a character who suffered from an awful case of blindness. Gloucester's blindness denied 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. Originally Gloucester saw Edgar being the good son, but due to lack of sight caused him to believe Edmund was the good son and prevented him from pondering the idea of Edmund being after his earldom.

Ironically, Gloucester's inability to see the realities of his sons occurred when he had his physical sight but was mentally blind; but his ability to see the true nature of his sons occurred after having his eyes plucked out by the Duke of Cornwall. Gloucester confesses his foolishness to a old man stating: "I have no way, and therefore want no eyes. I stumbled when I saw." (Act IV, Sc I, Ln 20-21) Gloucester regains his sight by realizing that Edgar saved his life disguised as Poor Tom and loved him all along and that Edmund planned to take over the earldom and that he was the evil son of the two. The blindness demonstrated by Gloucester would have resulted in Edmund receiving the power of earldom. Luckily, justice is found when Edgar defeats Edmund in combat and regains rightful inheritance of earldom....
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