Tennessee Williams said blindness to what is going on in each other’s heart…nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see…each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition --- all such distortion within our own egos--- condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other”. In the time of Kingship, tyranny, mutiny and deception, we find King Lear, Gloucester and Albany all caught up in a blind web lies and deception.
The term blind means the inability to see, as defined by Webster dictionary, blind is without the power of sight, sightless, or just lack of sight. In Shakespeare play of King Lear, he talks about many of his characters being blind, not in the literal sense of being unable to see, but in the metaphoric sense, from being blinded by ego, to naively blind and the age old saying, blinded by love. Blindness was the dominated theme in the play. King Lear, Gloucester and Albany are the prime examples of blindness. It’s the main cause of each of these men wrong and bad decisions, decisions that they eventually would come to regret.
King Lear being the worst of the three when it came to being blinded, blinded by his ego of having his daughters proving their love to him, in other to determine how much land they are worth, whilst being deceived by them with their lies. So caught up in his ego that he cannot see through the flattery of Reagan and Goneril, through their deception of how much they love him, to their smooching and stroking his ego. So blind, that he is unable to see the true love of his younger daughter Cordelia. Cordelia loving her father as a daughter should, no more no less, being truthful and sincere, yet King Lear cannot see pass his ego and the reality that is right in his face, that Cordelia is the only one that truly loves him. He is so egotistical, that deception, lies and fraud is right at the tip of his nose, yet he cannot see it and decipher the truth, causing him to banish Cordelia from his kingdom. “Thou hast her France, let her be thine, for we have no such daughter, nor shall ever see that face of hers again. (to Cordelia) Therefore be gone, without our grace, our love, our benison.” One would ask, how can a father banish his own flesh and blood? All because he’s not hearing what he wants to hear, and his ego is not allowing him to see the true love.
King Lear then banishes Kent, just because he came to the aid of Cordelia during her father irrationality, only to rehire him as a servant, after Kent disguises himself. Proving King Lear inability to determine his servant true identity, and how blind he really is. Throughout the play King Lear eyesight goes from blindness to finally being able to see. Finally seeing how evil and wicked his elder daughters really are, after they’re unwilling to care for him and locking him out during a storm. Seeing now that Cordelia truthfulness of the love she had for him, only it being too late and costing the death of the only daughter that really loved him and his life as well. How could one be so blind, to let ego, deception and lies be there walking stick, enough to walk them to their death.
Gloucester, the subplot of Shakespeare play King Lear, is another example of the Shakespeare theme of blindness. Blindness denied Gloucester the ability to see his legitimate son Edgars’ love and goodness, and the evil of Edmund. Even though Edgar is the good and loving son, Gloucester not only disowned him, but he also wanted to have him killed, only to be the one that would save Gloucester life later. Gloucester blindness started when Edmund tricked him by the forgery of a letter that said that Edgar was plotting to kill him. His lack of sight caused Gloucester to believe everything that Edmund said, from believing that he was not only the good son, and he wasn’t just after gaining his wealth. It is funny how being naively blinded, one cannot see when evil is right before you. Evil can come in all forms, even in the clothing of your own offspring, which in this case, as Edmund being a true and loving son, only to make Gloucester case away the son that love him. Just like King Lear, Gloucester is blinded from the start, only to gain his sight back, by literally be blinded, by getting his eyes gouged out. “I have no way, and therefore want no eyes. I stumbled when I saw. Full of’ tis seen, our means secure us, and our mere defects prove our commodities.” After losing his eyes Gloucester is now seeing Edgar for who he is, the good son that loved him, and realizing how evil Edmund was and he was playing Gloucester against Edgar so that he can take over his earldom. Gloucester inability to see the realities of his sons only occurred after he was truly unable to see, but was metaphorically blinded. Gloucester blindness though quite minimal, he was the only one that died as a result of his tragic flaw.
These three characters showed the examples of how Shakespeare theme of blindness not only dominated his play of King Lear, but it strongly controlled it. King Lear blinded by his own ego, allowed his evil elder daughters Reagan and Goneril, caused a powerful man of himself to be fooled and unable to distinguish lies from truth. Gloucester blinded by being naïve, allowed Edmund to cloud his judgment from knowing which of his sons was evil and which one was good, unable to decipher good from bad. Albany blinded by love, allowed himself to stand by and watch as his wife treat her father badly, the same father that she had confessed of loving more than her own husband, and he too unable to decide what is love and what is hate.
These men from the most powerful to the mere powerful, still couldn’t see the lies, deceit, forgery, or unloved that stood right before them. They allowed themselves to be fooled, to be lied to, only to be taken advantage of and then to casted away like the yesterdays’ news. Caught up in the blinded web of lies and deception, these men that possessed power, were treated like the fly that got trapped in a spiders’ web, only to be encased and saved for tomorrows’ lunch or dinner.