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An Examination of the Inverse Tropes of Sight and Blindness in King Lear In King Lear the recurring images of sight and blindness associated with the characters of Lear and Gloucester illustrate the theme of self-knowledge and consciousness that exist in the play These classic tropes are inverted in King Lear producing a situation in which those with healthy eyes are ignorant of what is going on around them and those without vision appear to see the clearest While Lears blindness is one which is metaphorical the blindness of Gloucester who carries the parallel plot of the play is literal Nevertheless both characters suffer from an inability to see the true nature of their children an ability only gained once the two patriarchs have plummeted to the utter depths of depravity Through a close reading of the text I will argue that Shakespeare employs the plot of Gloucester to explicate Lears plot and in effect contextualizes Lears metaphorical blindness with Gloucesters physical loss of vision When the audience is first introduced to Lear he is portrayed as a raging vain old man who can not see the purity of his daughter Cordelias love for him from the insincerity of her sisters Goneril and Regan In his fiery rage after disowning Cordelia Lear commands to Kent Out of my sight 11156 Kent fittingly implores the aging king to See better Lear and let me still remain The true blank of thine eye 11157-8 Kent recognizes love in its most noble form in the person of Cordelia and is able to see through the hypocrisy of Lears other two daughters In beseeching Lear to see better Kent is in effect asking Lear to look beyond his vanity and inward pride to see the honesty of Cordelia who refuses to put her love for her father on show From the very first act of the play then Shakespeare has set up the theme of consciousness using
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