Blindness in King Lear
King Lear is regarded as one among the greatest tragedies of Shakespeare believed to have written between 1603 and 1606. Shakespeare adopted the story of the play from Holinshed’s chronicle that deals with the story of King Lear and his daughters. He has also adopted another story, Gloucester and his sons, from another source which runs parallel to the main plot. Shakespeare’s mastery is seen in this play that the audience would never feel it as two stories taken from two different materials. The story of King Lear focuses on the tragedy of Lear, the King of England who divides his kingdom among his two elder daughters, Goneril and Regan, blindly believing their flattering words that they love their father more than anything else in the world. But for the third, Cordelia who is sincere in her words says, “I love your majesty, no more or less” (King Lear, 1.2). This enrages the King who mistook her words as her pride and denies her hereditary wealth. The story of Gloucester and his sons also enhances the tragic effect of the play when Edgar, son of Gloucester making his father blind and give up him. The two stories have superficially intertwined that no one would feel them as taken from two sources. The peculiarity of the Elizabethan age also has been well portrayed in the play where the rich dominates on the poor. The theatrical conventions of that period were entirely different form the modern age where the dramatist had to depend on boys to act the roles of female characters for the ladies were not available to enact in a play. Another difference lies in the usage of language used during that time may not be easily comprehensive for a new reader.
One can see that the theme of the play is blindness, the blindness of Lear in identifying the wickedness of his elder daughters and sincere affection and care of Cordelia. The other blindness is the real blindness of Gloucester who was made blind by his elder son, Edgar. When comparing the theme of the play and the film, one can see that there are differences when the director deliberately changes the story and some scenes as suiting to theatrical presentations. Regarding the film, King Lear (2008), one can find some departures for the original text. One of the main departures is the presentation of Cordelia when she decides to marry Edgar though she was already married to the King of France. The scene that presents the mad Lear in Act 3 is particularly notable with lightening and rain that the audience feels that it really enhances the suffering of Lear. The art direction of the film is so perfect that one is moved with the beauty and originality of the scenes and background with the original text. When the acting is regarded, especially the character of Lear it is quite evident that Ian McKellen is perfect as King Lear. The back ground score of the film helps the audience to deeply involve with the story. The close-up shots and long shots in the last scene have sketched the real agony of Lear and the failure attempt of Kent to console him. It makes one comment that the presentation of the film is so great even if there are slight departures from the original text.
Shakespeare, William. King Lear. W. A. Moore and C. S. Bernard. Harvard University, 1860. Print.