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"Blindness in King Lear and Oedipus Rex"
Blindness in King Lear and Oedipus Rex
Novelett Roberts
In Oedipus the King and King Lear, both main characters, as well as some minor characters, experience not only physical blindness, but mental blindness as well. King Lear, Gloucester, and Oedipus are "blind to the truth" in the beginning of the plays, and then experience some form of catharsis, the spiritual purging of emotions. In the end of the plays, all the blind characters gain the ability to "see".

In King Lear, Lear is mentally blind. Before he divides his kingdom, Lear asks his three daughters to profess their love for him, "Tell me, my daughters / …which of you shall we say doth love us most" (Shakespeare. I.1.52-56). This is one of Lear's downfalls, his overweening pride, or hubris, he wants to put on a show and have his daughters boost his ego in front of an audience. Lear's two oldest daughters, Goneril and Regan fill his head with false praises, pulling the blindfold over Lear's eyes; when Cordelia professes her love for him, "I cannot heave / My heart into my mouth. / I love your Majesty / According to my bond; no more nor less" (Shakespeare. I.1.101-102), Lear is oblivious that Cordelia's love is true and honest; he is blind. Lear disowns Cordelia, and when his friend, Kent, tries to convince Lear that he was wrong to disown his most caring and loving daughter, Lear, once again unable to see the truth, banishes Kent as well. Lear's physiological blindness is his ultimate downfall. Once Lear has realized his mistake in Act III, "Filial ingratitude! /…O Regan, Goneril! / Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all! / O, that way madness lies. Let me shun that; / No more of that" (Shakespeare. III. 4. 17-24), it is too late. When Lear realizes what his children have done...

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"Blindness in King Lear and Oedipus Rex." Aug 14, 2018
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