King Lear - Theme of Blindness

In Shakespearean terms, blinds 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. Shakespeareís 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 characterís 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

Learís 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. Learís first act of blindness came at the
beginning of the play. First, he was easily deceived by his two eldest
daughtersí lies, then, he was unable to see the reality of Cordeliaís
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)

Learís blindness also caused him to banish one of his loyal followers,

Kent. Kent was able to see Cordeliaís true love for her father, and
tried to protect her from her blind fatherís irrationality. After

Kent was banished, he created a disguise for himself and was
eventually hired by Lear as a servant. Learís inability to determine
his servantís true identity proved once again how blind Lear actually
was. As the play progressed, Learís eyesight reached closer to 20/20
vision. He realized how wicked his two eldest daughters really were
after they locked him out of the castle during a tremendous storm.

More importantly, Lear saw through Cordeliaís lack of flatterings and
realized that her love for him was so great that she couldnít express
it into words. Unfortunately, Learís blindness ended up costing

Cordelia her life and consequently the life of himself.

Gloucester was another example of a character who suffered
from an awful case of blindness. Gloucesterís 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. Gloucesterís blindness began when Edmund convinced him by the
means of a forged letter that Edgar was plotting to kill him.

Gloucesterís 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. Near the end of the play, Gloucester finally regained
his sight and realized that Edgar saved his life disguised as Poor Tom
and loved him all along. He realized that Edmund planned to take over
the earldom and that he was the evil son of the two. Gloucesterís
famous line: "I stumbled when I saw" (Act IV, Sc I, Ln 20-21) was
ironic. His 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. Fortunately, the consequences of

Gloucesterís blindness throughout the play was minimal, after all, he
was the only one to die as a result of his tragic flaw.

Albany was another character suffering from the classic case
of blindness, but luckily for him, he survived his battle. Albanyís
case of blindness was purely a result of the love he had for Goneril.

Although he disapproved of Gonerilís actions, he would only mildly
argue his case. When Goneril forced Lear to reduce his army so that
he could stay in their castle, Albany protested:

" I cannot be so partial, Goneril,

To the great love I bear You -"
(Act I, Sc IV, Ln 309-310)

Albanyís deep devotion to Goneril blinded him from the evil she
possessed. His inability to realize how greedy and mean Goneril was
after she flattered Lear with a bunch of lies and then kicked him out
of their home, just goes to show you how much Albany loved Goneril.

Albany was also blind to the fact that Goneril was cheating on him and
that she was plotting to kill him. Fortunately, Edgar came across a
cure for Albanyís blindness. A note outlining Gonerilís evil plans
was all Albany