• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How is imagery of sight and blindness used in the main characters' journey to wisdom, in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Lear?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How is imagery of sight and blindness used in the main characters' journey to wisdom, in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Lear? One of the key themes in both Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Lear and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex is the importance of having a good understanding of our condition as human beings - knowing ourselves, the world that surrounds us and our place in it. At the same time, however, both authors recognize the fact that blindness to this knowledge of the human condition is a basic mortal trait. Thus, before we can have an understanding of the human condition, we must endure a journey to wisdom. The two authors view the journey to wisdom in terms of metaphors of blindness and seeing. Sight is a frequently used metaphor for perception, knowledge and awareness, whilst blindness connotes ignorance, insensitivity and the inability to perceive and understand. In the two plays, the characters are initially blind to their own condition, which eventually leads them to make faulty decisions, despite the warnings of others. Consequently the characters suffer as a result of their poor judgment, and only then do they gain sight and a clear understanding of their own situation. The characters who undergo this journey are Shakespeare's Lear and Gloucester, along with Sophocles' Oedipus. ...read more.

Middle

(We as the audience have to accept this as true, since the Ancient Greeks believed in soothsayers). Once Oedipus learns of Teiresias' prophecies, he immediately disputes them. Thus, opposite the clairvoyant, Oedipus emerges as someone, who is very much blind to his own condition. This contrast between the two characters is further heightened, by the fact that Teiresias is physically blind and Oedipus is seeing. For an audience these two images would provide an immediate physical difference among the two, that they could easily identify. In The Tragedy of King Lear blindness is an appropriate metaphor, since Lear's behavior is just like that of a blind man's. Lear is just as blind to the possible consequences of his rash decisions, as a blind man is to the visual world. His loyal servant, Kent attempts to dissuade Lear from banishing Cordelia in poor judgment, 'see better, Lear'vii he begs. Kent wishes to 'remain the true blank of thine [Lear's] eye'viii. However, Lear remains blind and angrily tells Kent to get 'Out of [his] sight!'.ix Oedipus' unwillingness to acknowledge his own condition is aptly reflected in metaphors of blindness as well. Oedipus chooses to remain blind to the prophecies of Teiresias, in the same manner, as Lear does to Kent's counsel. ...read more.

Conclusion

When asked who has blinded him, Oedipus responds that 'Apollo has laid this agony upon [him]'. Furthermore, Oedipus has accepted the inevitable nature of his own fate and knows that 'not age, nor sickness, nor a common accident can end [his] life.' Following his blinding Gloucester states that ' 'Tis the times' plague when madmen lead the blind.'xix This reflects one of the chief dangers of being blind to our own condition as human beings, those who are unaware of certain aspects of their being, are easily fooled and deceived (lead by madmen). Lear, Gloucester and Oedipus all go on a journey for wisdom; however the knowledge of their own condition comes too late, Lear goes mad, Oedipus and Gloucester loose their eyes. The advantage we have, as the audience is drama's godlike perspective, which allows us to examine the lives of the characters of a play and to detect our own blindness in due time. It must be noted that Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Lear and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, present us with two very different i I.1.116 ii I.1.51 iii I.1.41 iv I.1.41 v I.1.96 vi I.1.301-302 vii I.1.158 viii I.1.159 ix I.1.157 x I.1.300-301 xi I.1.373 xii I.1.380-381 xiii I.1.318 xiv IV.5.101 xv V.3.253 xvi IV.6.69 xvii IV.1.18 xviii IV.5.141-142 xix IV.1.47 ?? ?? ?? ?? - 3 -- 3 -- 3 - Martin Vaivods IBH English A1 World Literature Paper II - 1 - ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE King Lear section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE King Lear essays

  1. A Consideration of the way Shakespeare presents and develops the theme of blindness in ...

    Shakespeare illustrates poetic justice, in the downfall of Cornwall. To counterbalance Cornwall's corruption, Albany grows in moral strength and gains awareness of justice and virtue. Like Albany, Edgar's character develops throughout the play, he must suffer as Tom O Bedlam to truly understand Edmond's trickery and more importantly himself.

  2. 'I am a man more sinned against than sinning' III.2.59-60 To what extent do ...

    It also appears that as the audience witness the deterioration and mounted suffering and internal turmoil of Lear in Act 3, their sympathy grows likewise. Ironically, it is evident that it is only when Lear turns mad that he can see the things he was blind to when he was sane.

  1. I am a man more sinned against than sinning King Lear was written ...

    They begin to interrogate him about Lear and he confesses that he has sent Lear to the safety of Dover. Then Cornwall does the unthinkable after Regan has been plucking the old man's beard, Cornwall plucks out one of Gloucester eyes, the old man screams for help.

  2. Character Analyses - King Lear

    Parallel to Lear's punishment is that which Gloucester suffers. The plucking of Gloucester's eyes can be perceived as another instance in which divine justice is lacking. Gloucester has made several errors in judgment, as has Lear; but the brutal nature of Gloucester's blinding-the plucking out of his eyes and the crushing of them under Cornwall's boots-is surely in excess of any errors he might have made.

  1. A Consideration of the way Shakespeare presents and develops the theme of blindness in ...

    This will allow us to sympathise with him, making the play more tragic. It is Lear's interaction with those characters who lead him to 'sight', in which we see his more tolerant, caring nature. Kent is integral to the development of Lear's understanding and insight, as is the Fool.

  2. Explore the Ways in Which Shakespeare Presents the Character of King Lear.

    to shake all cares and business from our age, conferring them on younger strengths'. This is a rash and unusual decision, and suggests that the monarch is seeking retirement. Lear is generous towards his daughters Regan and Cordelia, which despite the blatant insincerity of their replies to the 'love test'

  1. A Consideration of the way Shakespeare presents and develops the theme of blindness in ...

    Cornwall however is morally blind, and unable to see the wrong of his actions. The outcome of Cornwall's blindness is his death, his own servant turns on him, just as he turned on his host and his king. Shakespeare illustrates poetic justice, in the downfall of Cornwall.

  2. Explore shakespeare's use of the Renaissance idea of fatalism and imagery linked to the ...

    In cities, mutinies; ...in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction.' (Act I.2.106-10) Gloucester is ironically referring to Edgar, not Edmund, as the villain. Ironically in relation to the main plot Gloucester is speaking wisely here, as division in

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work