Essay on the Theme of Blindness in ‘King Lear’

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In ‘King Lear’, Shakespeare’s playwright offers a vivid yet negative portrayal of Lear himself. The audience confronts a hero king whose hamartia brings about not only his downfall but also the destruction of his surroundings and more devastatingly upon innocent people. Lear is portrayed as an arrogant king with an innate sense of superiority, great wrath, and error of judgment. When Shakespeare introduces to his audience a king who is susceptible to the servile of his daughters and other acquaintances, his whole kingdom goes to ruins as it reduces him to abject misery. He distributes his kingdom based on his own daughter’s flattery and anyone who can also flatter him like Goneril and Regan. It shows that Lear is weak in the sense that he is supposed to be a king who rules over a country. However, they portrayed Lear as someone evil and selfish for giving his kingdom to his evil daughters who only hold an evil motive for it. The knowledge that Lear gains is self-knowledge, it is only possible to gain that by reaching such madness of a betrayal he gets from his own flesh and blood. The significance of being blind due to his eyes being gouged out by Edmund is that it doesn’t blind him to the truth any longer, for it shows the reality of things. Gloucester believes that Edmund loves him but he’s wrong, as for Lear, he believes that Regan and Goneril love him way more than Cordelia does to the scheming they do, which is also wrong. This play is similar to ‘Macbeth’ in a way, for both plays tell of a story of someone whose love gets in the way of the reality of things. Although both plays contain different plots they still have that similarity.

In these various plays that have been read and compared/contrasted, one can assume that old age in a world containing evil is seen as tragic, it is also seen as a flaw in a tragedy. For example, King Lear’s story takes place around the 1650’s, it contains both tragedy and flaw, the characters show their greed throughout the story, and the father is seen trying to please someone based on his blindness to love and flattery. As for the Fool’s role in this play, he is someone who serves King Lear, as someone who Lear can express his burgeoning feelings since he has no one to confide in. The Fool is seen as someone loyal, as he is the king’s protector. The Fool was able to get away with many things like insults and practical jokes. He is also someone who could be wiser than the king himself, yet it is only due to his experience that one has nothing to gain or fear from. Edgar’s role, on the other hand, is someone who is an outcast and a madman, he is someone who has been deceived by his family, just as King Lear was for Edgar was deceived by his half-brother. Edgar’s role in the play is someone who is a spirit, he pretends to be mad, but at the end of the play, he is someone who has wisdom and insight. As a madman, his role is to foreshadow King Lear’s fate, as for the Fool, he is someone who can predict Edmund’s moral condition.

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If the apocalypse is the day of final judgment, what certainly be judged in 'King Lear' is that blindness to something as flattery can get one nowhere in life. It can destroy one as well as those around them. For being blinded by love, one’s end can approach sooner rather than later.

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