Critical Analysis IV
Madness and Blindness in King Lear
King Lear by Shakespeare is a play that has many motifs and ideals that are supported by its characters. One motif that is introduced in the very beginning is the relationship between blindness and madness. Although the development of this relationship can be seen within characters such as Glouchester the Earl, and Goneril and Regan, the king’s daughters, it is best illustrated by the king himself. The relationship between blindness and madness illustrated in King Lear teaches that blindness will lead to madness, and madness will lead to enlightenment.
No character in King Lear experiences the effects of this ...view middle of the document...
Because of the King’s blindness, he is outraged by this response. He fails to see that Goneril and Regan were lying to get ahead while poor Cordelia, who he then banishes, is the one who truly loves him. The king then divides his land between Goneril and Regan, and they proceed to lead him into madness. Because they don’t truly love him, he ends up storming out and finding himself right in the middle of a literal storm. There’s also a storm occurring within him that parallels the storm outside; the king is mad, and he’s starting to realize it. He strips down, yells, and carries on at and in the storm, and curses the heavens for his unfortunate fate. The king coming to terms with his daughters’ wicked treatment of him is his first step in to enlightenment. After the king emerges from his storm, he sees things for what they really are. Upon meeting Glouchester again, after his eyes have been gouged out, he remarks “I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny
at me?” This shows he sees not what is on the outside anymore, but who’s on the inside.
King Lear best illustrates the relationship between blindness and madness because his journey began with blindness. He blindly banished his one true loving and supportive daughter from his kingdom because she didn’t lie like her sisters. The treatment he received from the two daughters that he didn’t disown drove him into madness, which was represented by the storm he barely endured. The storm within his self and outside his self brought on enlightenment to the reality of his behavior and its effect on his kingdom.
All in all, King Lear shows that blindness in King Lear is the flaw, madness is the outcome, and enlightenment is the aftermath.