In the classic play, King Lear the theme of blindness encompasses both literal and figurative meanings. The terms blind or blindness generally are described in the Webster's Dictionary as " wanting of sight or discernment, having no outlet, an obstruction of view or ignorance." Another understanding of blindness could also be interpreted as psychological defect or willful denial. The theme of blindness is most apparent in Shakespeare's characters King Lear, the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Gloucester. Essentially when each character experiences one form or another of blindness, they are faced with a behavioral choice and choose poorly which over time results in the characters remorseful behavior.
The most significant character to portray ignorance, psychological defect and willful denial is the title character King Lear. Though his blindness is not of the literal sense he is figuratively blind due to his disconnection with real life, which results in repeated inappropriate behavior. King Lear's disconnection with life due to the hierarchy of his position as a King ordained by God is typical of the times. In this part of history, kings typically wanted for nothing, were not confronted when their behavior was viewed as improper. Characters such as King Lear were surrounded by people whom sole purpose was to make his life as easy as possible and make every request a reality. The expectations of King Lear, due to his high position in the hierarchy, deemed that he should be capable of discovering the truth of the matter at hand, while also recognizing falseness in others. Regrettably in the case of this character, his tendency of figurative blindness towards others true nature more specifically with his daughters, caused much turmoil throughout the play. .
A primary example of this behavior is best expressed when King Lear becomes angry at his youngest daughters reluctance to falsely overstate her affection in order to remain in his good graces for financial gain.