"King Lea"r - Theme of Blindness.

Essay by sjunejo January 2006

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In Shakespearean terms, blind means a whole different thing.

Blindness can normally be defined as the inability of the eye to see,

but according to Shakespeare, blindness is not a physical quality,

but a mental flaw some people possess. Shakespeare's most dominant

theme in his play "King Lear" is that of blindness. King Lear,

Gloucester, and Albany are three prime examples Shakespeare

incorporates this theme into. Each of these character's blindness was

the primary cause of the bad decisions they made; decisions which all

of them would eventually come to regret.

The blindest bat of all was undoubtedly King Lear. Because of

Lear's high position in society, he was supposed to be able to

distinguish the good from the bad; unfortunately, his lack of sight

prevented him to do so. Lear's first act of blindness came at the

beginning of the play. First, he was easily deceived by his two eldest

daughters' lies, then, he was unable to see the reality of Cordelia's

true love for him, and as a result, banished her from his kingdom with

the following words:

"..................................for we

Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see

That face of her again. Therefore be gone

Without our grace, our love, our benison."

(Act I, Sc I, Ln 265-267)

Lear's blindness also caused him to banish one of his loyal followers,

Kent. Kent was able to see Cordelia's true love for her father, and

tried to protect her from her blind father's irrationality. After

Kent was banished, he created a disguise for himself and was

eventually hired by Lear as a servant. Lear's inability to determine

his servant's true identity proved once again how blind Lear actually

was. As the play progressed, Lear's eyesight reached closer to 20/20

vision. He realized how wicked his...