Themes and Motifs in King Lear

King Lear

In Shakespeare’s Tragedy King Lear understanding the themes and motifs is as important as interpreting the dialogue. The emotional effect is highlighted in King Lear with Shakespeare’s use of themes which mirrors the father-child relationships, the different definitions of blindness and the degrees of complete madness.

Blindness can normally be defined as the inability of the eye to see, but according to Shakespeare, blindness is not a physical trait, but a mental imperfection some people possess. Because of Lear’s high position in society, he was supposed to be able to distinguish the good from the bad however his lack of sight prevented him from doing it. King Lear’s first act of blindness came at the beginning of the play. First, his two eldest daughters easily deceived him by their lies then he could not see the reality of Cordelia’s true love for him, and as a result, banished her from his kingdom with the following words:“for we have no such daughter, nor shall ever see that face of her again.   Therefore be gone without our grace, our love, our benison.” (Act I, Scene I, Ln 265-267) Lear’s blindness also lead him into getting rid of one of his most loyal men.   Kent was able to see Cordelia’s true love for her father, and tried to protect her from her blind father’s irrationality.   After Kent was banished, he disguised himself and was eventually hired by Lear as a servant.   Lear’s inability to determine his servant’s true identity proved once again how blind Lear actually was.   As the play progressed, Lear’s eyesight reached closer to 20/20 vision.   He realized how nasty and horrible his two eldest daughters really were after they locked him out of the castle during a storm.   More importantly, Lear saw through Cordelia’s lack of flatterings and realized that her love for him was so great that she couldn’t express it into words.   Unfortunately, Lear’s blindness ended up costing Cordelia her life and consequently the life of himself....