King Lear - Theme of Blindness

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 needed to see. Finally, Albany recognized