Friday, February 3, 2012

King Lear

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Shakespeare wrote many well-known plays through out his life. King Lear, being one of his great tragedies that showed the destruction of a kingdom. Through this play, he presented a clear theme of physical sight verses metaphorical sight.


Gloucester brought out this theme as he develops from seeing with his physical eye to gaining the knowledge of insight. In the beginning, he only relied on his physical eye to see which had made him metaphorically blind.


¡°The quality of nothing


Hath not such needed to hide it self. Let¡¯s see-come if


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It be nothing I shall not need my spectacles.¡±


He relied on his physical eye to see the letter that Edmund had given him. As a result, Gloucester believed Edgar to be unfaithful to him. The fact that Gloucester did not have his spectacles when he had opened the letter is symbolist for Gloucester¡¯s figurative eye being dominated by the physical eye, disabling him to make a rational judgement. As well as this Gloucester repeatedly says, ¡°let¡¯s see, let¡¯s see,¡± as though he would only believe in what he sees. When he had read the letter he believes it without any question, this shows that although he had the physically ability to see, he was spiritually sightless as he did not have the understanding what was actually happening.


¡°Now, Edmund, where¡¯s the villain?¡±


Even though, Gloucester had not spoken to Edgar about what has happened he concludes that Edgar as a villain. This is an extreme judgement made by Gloucester showing his metaphorical blindness as it is not made with any justification. One other situation where this is present is when his eyes lead him to make an irrational judgement about the staged battle between Edmund and Edgar.


¡°O strange and fastened villain,


would he deny his letter, said he? I never got him.


Hark the Duke¡¯s trumpets; I know not why he comes


All parts I¡¯ll bar, the villain shall not escape.¡±


While Gloucester¡¯s feeling was telling him that something strange was happening, he ignores it by saying that he never understood Edgar. In addition, when Gloucester had seen Edmund¡¯s hurt he immediately trusted Edmund¡¯s words over his own feelings. This brought out the theme of sight verses insight, as when Gloucester had his eyes he was symbolically sightless.


It is only after Gloucester had lost his physical eyes he learns to see figuratively. This is the theme of sight verses insight as he has lost one to gain the other. Although his sight had deceived him, it gave him the ability to see the world. Whereas when he had lost that he gained an insight that did allowed him to see metaphorically.


¡°I have no way and therefore wanted no eyes


I stumbled when I saw, Full oft¡¯tis seen


Our means secure us, and our mere defects


Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,


The food of thy abused father¡¯s wrath!


Might I but live to see thee in my touch,


I¡¯d say I had eyes again.¡±


He says that when he had eyes he stumbled spiritually. That led him to figurative blindness, and for this he does not want eyes any more. This is Gloucester¡¯s point of realisation where he admits to been metaphorically blind, as he only knew to believe in what he saw over what he felt. As Gloucester learns to accept his physical blindness his insight grows immensely.


¡°That salves your ordinance, that will not see


Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly


So distribution should undo excess.¡±


Gloucester tells Edgar to help others that only depend upon their sight. This shows his insight as he gains the knowledge to understand how others might feel. This brings out the theme since, though his literal blinding Gloucester has learned to be a morally better person. This also can be seen through Lear¡¯s perspective of Gloucester.


¡°Oho, are you there with me? No eyes in you head nor no


money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your


purse in a light, yet you see how this world goes.¡±


At a glance it appears that Gloucester is worse off then Lear as he does not have and money or any eyes, yet Lear envies him. Since, Gloucester had gained an insight into the world. For this reason Lear addresses Gloucester as the one who could see through everything. This has shown the theme of physical verses symbolic sight, due to the fact that Gloucester has become a wiser person though his insight but has lost the ability to see literally. However, for Gloucester it would seem that he is better off unsighted as though this lost he had gained the insight.


All through out the play Gloucester presented the theme of sight and insight and posed the question, which is better? It would appear that the knowledge of insight is greater as he learns to accept the truth about life. This theme also provided a lesson that the truth can be seen when the feelings are trusted more that what appears to the physical eye. Although King Lear, was written centuries ago the lessons are is applicable to the modern society. This is one of the reasons why Shakespeare¡¯s plays are well known up to this date.





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