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Blindness and Sight – Lack of Insight in King Lear

King Lear: The Theme of Blindness (Lack of Insight)

In Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, King Lear, the issue of sight and its relevance to clear vision is a recurring theme. Shakespeare’s principal means of portraying this theme is through the characters of Lear and Gloucester. Although Lear can physically see, he is blind in the sense that he lacks insight, understanding, and direction. In contrast, Gloucester becomes physically blind but gains the type of vision that Lear lacks. It is evident from these two characters that clear vision is not derived solely from physical sight. Lear’s failure to understand this is the principal cause of his demise, while Gloucester learns to achieve clear vision, and consequently avoids a fate similar to Lear’s.

Throughout most of King Lear, Lear’s vision is clouded by his lack of insight. Since he cannot see into other people’s characters, he can never identify them for who they truly are. When Cordelia angers Lear, Kent tries to reason with Lear, who is too stubborn to remain open-minded. Lear responds to Kent’s opposition with, “Out of my sight,” to which Kent responds, “See better, Lear, and let me still remain” (I.i.160). Here, Lear is saying he never wants to see Kent again, but he could never truly see him for who he is. Kent was only trying to do what was best for Lear, but Lear could not see that. Kent’s vision is not clouded, as is Lear’s, and he knows that he can remain near Lear as long as he is in disguise. Later, Lear’s vision is so superficial that the physical garments and simple disguise that Kent wears easily dupe him. Lear cannot see who Kent really is. He only learns of Kent’s noble and honest character just prior to his death, when his vision is cleared. By this time, however, it is too late for an honest relationship to be salvaged.

Lear’s vision is also marred by his lack of direction in life, and his poor foresight, his inability to predict the consequences of his actions. He cannot look far enough into the future to see the consequences of his actions. This, in addition to his lack of insight into other people, condemns his relationship with his most beloved daughter, Cordelia. When Lear asks his daughters who loves him most, he already thinks that Cordelia has the most love for him.

Comparing Homer’s Odyssey and Everyday Life

The Odyssey is filled with emotion and adventure. Homer’s ability to show and give the reader a visual of each and every scene gives the story its unbelievable significance. To all the people who read his work there is something to be captured within every sentence, each one different in its own, unique way. Through tales of courage and defeat, friendship and love this book tells of all the values within the life of a single, solitary man, and his journey to attain what is true and dear to him. And this journey is known to all of us as The Odyssey. The Odyssey is a test of human devotion and trust through the gods, the mortals, and the obstacles through which they venture. No matter where they go or what they do, humans are tested for certain characteristics everyday of their lives, whether they realize it or not; and The Odyssey is just one of those many miraculous tests.

The gods inflict a numerous amount of pain upon Odysseus for these tests of devotion and trust. Athene, the daughter of Zeus, happens to be a goddess who does this to Odysseus quite frequently. She aids Odysseus on his journey toward his destiny; therefore she must impose this pain upon him in order to make him strong in mind and in heart. As his aid “…Athene allowed the haughty suitors not altogether yet to cease from biting scorn. She wished more pain to pierce the heart of Laërtes’ son, Odysseus”(180) so that he may conquer all that he must in order to obtain his destiny and all that belongs to him. Without this pain and suffering that Odysseus goes through he may not have reached the pinnacle of his journey toward his destined life.

The gods act as guides for Odysseus so that he may successfully pass these tests. As his aid, Athene becom…

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…happens, it all happens for the best. That everything that is done is a given test that you must achieve in order to reach your destiny. The Odyssey is a test of human devotion and trust through the gods, the mortals, and the obstacles through which they venture, which is shown throughout the entire story and in our everyday lives. Through this story, one can see that all of this is true, whether you believe it or not. These tests can be shown through an epic simile by Homer saying, “As a man hides a brand in a dark bed of ashes, at some outlying farm where neighbors are not near, hoarding a seed of fire to save his seeking elsewhere, even so did Odysseus hide himself in leaves”(54). This shows the symbolism that the ocean is Odysseus’ tests and he hides under the leaves in order to hide from the tests. But in the end, the tests help him and make everything well.

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