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

    He tries to spell out his authority to Oswald: 'Who am I, sir?' And the servant replies simply that he is 'My lady's father'. Shakespeare presents Lear as being appalled at this comment, and bluntly shows how Lear's loss of the crown has severely dented his command.

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

    He believes he is in hell for what he has done to Cordellia. He is still bewildered and confused and does not know where he is. 'Pray do not mock me: I am very foolish, fond, old man, Forescore and upward, Not an hour more nor less; and to deal plainly, I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

  2. Compare and contrast Lear and Macbeth's effectiveness as Kings.

    Instead both Kings let themselves become blinded by anger and revenge. King Lear is by no means an ineffective or unimpressive king, but rather one who has not taken enough care of his Kingdom. He has ruled for a long time, and has inspired great loyalty from those who serve him.

  1. King Lear is universal - the tragedy is in a distantly remote and

    Postmodern criticism - abandons any notion of the unity of the play and rejects the assumption that a Shakespeare play possesses clear patterns or themes. Some deny the possibility of finding meaning in language as the words refer to other words and so any interpretation is endlessly delayed.

  2. 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.

  1. Do you agree that Shakespeare was a product of his time whose plays have ...

    (Schneider 1995 sec 8) So what then can we say of the "matrix" of metaphors by which Shakespeare conveys his meaning? For, if as Schneider and others have argued, the basis of that matrix is unintelligible to a modern audience, if fundamental themes such as death are understood so

  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