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King Lear

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 12:19 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 66.4 
  • Words: 1186
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In order to understand the theme of Shakespeare's great tragedy, "King Lear", we must explore what is meant by 'eyesight or lack of it'. Eyesight is a recurring theme throughout the play, which refers to the metaphorical and physical blindness of the characters.


From the beginning, Shakespeare lets the audience see King Lear as himself. Lear isn't given any premisconceptions and the audience is left to explore Lear's character on their own.


In the first scene the audience sees Lear proclaiming to his three daughters that, in order to be awarded her dowry, she must express her love accordingly to him. Goneril going first uses wit, deceit and Lear's state of metaphorical blindness to create such an indulgent speech of which no father could disapprove. "I love you more than word can wield the matter; dearer than eyesight, space and liberty...rich or rare; no less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor...beyond all matter of so much I love you" (Act I, scene I, 55-61)


At this point of the play, the audience has their first insight to Goneril's true personality, and Lear's lack of eyesight. It's not until we hear all three daughters' speeches that the audience is introduced to Lear's metaphorical blindness. The metaphorical language and beauty of both Goneril and Regan’s speeches blind Lear. It is Lear's blinded state that stops him from understanding and accepting Cordelia's expression of her love. "Noting will come of nothing. Speak again." (Act I, scene I, 90)


Lear's eyesight blinds him of the truth. Cordelia's speech challenges Lear's intellect and portrays him as being less powerful, than he was implied to be in the beginning.


Cordelia's speech is the first point in the play where the audience sees the difference between the three daughters and the truth behind King Lear.


Goneril and Regan's' speeches give Lear exactly what he wants to hear. Lear seems to be entertained by the fact that each...

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