King Lear vs The Stone Angel Blindness Essay Example
King Lear vs The Stone Angel Blindness Essay Example

King Lear vs The Stone Angel Blindness Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1452 words)
  • Published: May 15, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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It was once stated, "The lack of sight results in the loss of the surrounding space and the absence of one's physical presence, potentially rendering their existence inconceivable."

The quote "You could be nowhere at all" relates the characters in both The Stone Angel and King Lear. In William Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear and Margaret Laurence's novel The Stone Angel, the term blindness takes on a different meaning. It is not a physical defect, but rather the inability of the characters to use their thoughts and emotions to perceive someone's true nature. Characters like King Lear, Gloucester, and Hagar suffer greatly from this flaw. However, this blindness ultimately leads to a sense of loneliness and despair, causing them to become isolated. Once they have succumbed to this isolation, the characters finally gain insight into thei


r long-standing flaw and embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Although these characters share traits, a critical difference exists between the two books in the character's ability to redeem themselves after the epiphany. Blindness grants moral insight, and King Lear is undoubtedly the most blind of all due to his high position in society. Lear, who is expected to distinguish between good and bad, tragically is unable to do so because of his lack of "mind" sight. The beginning of the play exemplifies Lear's blindness.

First, Lear was easily deceived by the lies of his two greedy daughters who were quick to tell him what he wanted to hear. Then, he failed to recognize Cornelia's genuine love for him. Lear's final words to the only daughter who truly loved him were: "....or we/ have no such daughter, nor shall we ever see/ that face

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of hers again. Therefore be gone/ without our grace, our love, our benison."

(Shakespeare I. i 262-265). Both Gloucester and Shakespeare's characters generally lack the ability to perceive and understand their surroundings accurately. For example, Gloucester fails to recognize the goodness in his son Edgar and the wickedness in Edmund. Gloucester readily accepts a forged letter as proof that Edgar is planning to murder him. The moment he finishes reading the letter, Gloucester erupts in anger and exclaims, "O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, delested, brutish/villain! Worse than brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him; I'll apprehend him."

Abominable villain! Where is he? (I. ii 75-78) Hagar's pride blinds her and makes her stubborn to show any emotion. Similar to how she reacted to the deaths of her two brothers and father, Hagar remains emotionless upon Bram's death. It is possible that her pride prevents her from showing grief or perhaps she did not love him as much, but when Brampton Shipley died, "it was John who cried, not I" (Laurence 184).

In a fall incident, Hagar displays emotions and cries in front of Doris. In response to these tears, Doris declares, "These tears are not mine. I dismiss them and speak against them - let them disappear." Even when she does express emotions, her pride causes her to dismiss them and regain confidence in herself. This blindness in the characters eventually leads to their isolation; Lear is isolated from those who truly care for him. After banishing Cordelia and Kent, only Regan and Gonerail remain. Lear believes his daughters are loyal to him, but they actually betray and deeply offend him.

Listen to me, my lord, why do you need twenty-five, ten, five people to attend to you when twice as many have the authority in the house? Why do you need one? (Shakespeare II)

In lines IV 260-264, Regan and Gonerail refuse to allow Lear to keep any of his knights, which results in his isolation from his own power. Moreover, during a fierce storm, Regan and Gonerail lock Lear out of their castle. This leaves Lear alone, disconnected from his family and power, causing him to descend into madness. Similarly, Gloucester finds himself isolated from his beloved legitimate son, Edgar, who is the only one that truly loves him. Furthermore, Gloucester is kept in the dark about the truth, which Edmund deliberately conceals. Edmund manipulates Gloucester into believing that "It is in his hands my lord, but I hope his heart is not in the contents" (I).

Edgar's hands, the ones that wrote a letter planning to kill Gloucester, also convince Gloucester to leave the castle. As a result, Gloucester becomes isolated and alone when he leaves. Similarly, Hagar does not cry when John dies, feeling that she must endure the pain on her own and cannot seek comfort from others.

A matron comforts and advises Hagar to express her emotions by crying, acknowledging it as a beneficial release. However, Hagar reacts by pushing away the matron's arm.

I straightened my spine and that was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my whole life, to stand straight at that moment. I refused to shed tears in front of unfamiliar faces, no matter the consequences (Laurence 242). Upon returning home, Hagar discovered that she

was unable to cry. "The night my son died, I turned into a statue and never shed a single tear." Her pride causes her to isolate herself, rejecting any form of comfort or assistance. Additionally, while at the hospital, Doris informs Hagar about an old friend and the realization hits Hagar like a ton of bricks: "I never fully comprehended until now how disconnected I am from others."

", is the response from Hagar. She realizes how her stubbornness isolates her from almost everyone around her. As the play progresses, Lear's sanity deteriorates, but his vision improves. During a fierce storm, Lear strips off his clothes and has an epiphany. Finally, he gains insight from this.

Lear comes to the realization that Gonerail and Regan are the daughters who did not love him. He also begins to comprehend Cordelia's words, "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth/I love your majesty/ According to my bond; no more nor less. "(Shakespeare I.i 93-95). Lear understands that Cordelia loved him so deeply that she couldn't express it in words. Towards the end of the play, when Lear and Cordelia are finally reunited, Lear expresses his remorse, saying, "You must bear with me, I pray you now, forget and forgive:/ I am old and foolish."

"(IV. vii 82). Ironically, Gloucester gains clear vision only after losing his physical sight. He learns that Edmund was the one who wanted his earldom. Gloucester feels remorse for how he treated Edgar, evident in his statement 'I have no way and therefore I want no eyes;/ I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seen, our means secure us, and our

mere defects. Prove our commodities."

Ah! ear son Edgar;/ The food of thy abused fathers wrath;/ Might I but live to see thee in my touch, / I'd say I had eyes again. ( IV. i 18-24)

Hagar, on her deathbed, reaches insight and opens up to someone. With extraordinary honesty, she reveals her feelings to Marvin: "'I'm - frightened. Marvin, I'm so frightened-' ..."

According to Laurence (303), Hagar expresses that it is the first time she has ever made such a statement. Additionally, Hagar removes the burden from herself and provides Marvin with redemption by acknowledging his goodness, stating, "Marvin. You've been good to me, always. A better son than John." Furthermore, Hagar reflects on her life, describing how pride has been her wilderness and fear has been the demon that led her there. She acknowledges her constant state of solitude and lack of freedom, as she carried her own chains within her and they influenced everything she came in contact with. She mourns for her deceased loved ones saying, "Oh, my two, my dead."

Dead by your own hands or by mine? Nothing can take away those years" This is Hagar's Epiphany, where she finally gains insight on her true self. Despite all that she has endured, even on her deathbed, a stubborn old woman's behavior remains unchanged. "I only defeat myself by not accepting her. I know this- I know it very well. But I can't help it, it's my nature. I'll drink from this glass or spill it just as I choose".

In summary, moral insight is gained through blindness. It is not a physical flaw, but rather the characters' inability to truly perceive

others through their thoughts and emotions. However, this blindness ultimately leads to feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and isolation. Once isolated, the characters finally obtain the long-awaited insight and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Yet, despite this discovery, some individuals remain unchanged in the end.

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