How Lear Learns To See Better

2766 words - 12 pages

In this paper we are going to follow King Lear through his journey from being an arrogant King to finding his humanity and point to key moments that help him to gain a clear vision or open his mind’s eye as opposed to his short sightedness. This is a very important theme and throughout history alchemists, poets and writers have been focused on it. For example Rumi in his poetry mentions that if we open the mind’s eye then we see all the secrets of the world in front of us.
Before diving into the details of words and imagery let’s have a look at key synopsis and events in the play related to our theme:
* 1.1.130 Lear uses flattery test to divide his kingdom (shortsightedness)
* ...view middle of the document...

Then let fall
Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak and despised old man:
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That will with two pernicious daughters join
Your high-engendered battles gainst a head
So old and white as this. O, ho, ‘tis foul!
* 3.2.56-57 “I am a man more sinned against than sinning” (still believes he is a victim)
* 3.4.67-75 “ Lear: Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air
Hang fated o’er men’s faults light on thy daughters!
Kent: He hath no daughters, sir.
Lear: Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature
To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
Judicious punishment! ‘Twas this flesh begot
Those pelican daughters. “
* 3.4.144-150 “Lear: First let me talk with this philosopher.-
What is the cause of thunder?
Kent: Good my lord, take this offer: go into th’house.
Lear: I’ll talk a word with this same learned Theban.-
What is your study?
Edgar: How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.
Lear: Let me ask you one word in private.
* 3.4.164-174 “Lear: O, cry you mercy, sir. –
Noble philosopher, your company
Edgar: Tom’s a-cold.
Gloucester In, fellow, there, into th’hovel: keep thee
warm.
Lear: Come let’s in all.
Kent: This way, my lord.
Lear: With him;
I will keep still with my philosopher.
Kent: Good my lord, soothe him: let him take
the fellow.
Gloucester: Take him you on.
Kent: Sirrah, come on: go along with us.
Lear: Come, good Athenian.”
* 4.5.154-179 “Lear: O, ho. Are you there with me? No eyes in your 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.
Gloucester: I see it feelingly.
Lear: What, are mad? A man may see how this world goes
with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yond justice rails
upon yond simple thief. Hark, in thine ear: change places,
and handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?
Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?
Gloucester: Ay, sir.
Lear: And the creature run from the cur? There thou
mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog’s obeyed
in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold they bloody hand
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip they own back:
Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
For which thou whip’st her. The usurer hangs the
Cozener.
Through tattered clothes great vices do appear:
Robes and furred goewns hide all. Place sins with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtles breaks:
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.
None does offend, none, I say, none: I’ll able ‘em.
Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
To seal th’accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes,
And like a scurvy politician seem
To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now,
now.” (Feeling)

The Lear that we see in Act I as a King is an old man with certain flaws in his character that make...

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