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Many literary techniques are used to emphasize the theme of the Shakespearean play King Lear. The dramas theme is blindness, both mentally and physically, to the truth. In King Lear, the techniques of imagery, foreshadowing, and irony help to reinforce the dramas theme that people are blind to the truth.


Imagery is used frequently and helps to create a vivid image for the audience. Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air hang fated over mens faults lights on thy daughters. This quote uses imagery because part of the quote is lights on thy daughters which shows how Lears daughters dont love him except for Cordelia, who does. Another example of imagery, is when Cornwall stomps out Gloucesters eyes. When Gloucester realizes his mental and figurative blindness, Cornwall physically blinds him. At the end of the play, everyone betrays everyone else. This is an example of imagery because the characters are also betrayed mentally by one another.


Foreshadowing also enhances the idea of figurative blindness because the characters actions are hinted at before they actually occur. Ive escaped the pursuit therefore to survive Ill disguise myself as a crazy, dirty, beggar. Edgar, by dressing so poorly, is foreshadowing that he will have to do a dirty deed, which is killing his brother, Edmund, at the end of the play. In act , scene 4 the fool is telling Lear that poor fathers treat their children badly, when rich fathers make their children happy, but Lears children were still unhappy and wrong, even if he was rich. The fool was trying to tell King Lear that there was trouble amongst his daughters. This is an example of foreshadowing because the trouble the fool was telling Lear about could and did turn into something much more serious. Never! I was king, but I gave away my kingdom. The storm is my master now. This quote demonstrates foreshadowing because the way Lear is babbling, and talking about the storm, can mean that he is going crazy.


A third literary technique, irony, underscores the theme of the play. …Youll say they are Persian; but let them be changed. This is a comment made about Edgars messy, old clothes in act , scene 6. The comment is ironic because the word Persian usually refers to something beautiful and colorful. Away and let me die. This quote was made by Gloucester in act 4, scene 6. He was speaking to Edgar who had led him to a hill to jump from, but Gloucester expected to jump from a cliff. The quote is an example of dramatic irony because the audience knows that Gloucester is only jumping from a small hill, but since he is blind, he thinks he is jumping from a mighty cliff. In act 1, scene 1 Lear says, …Give me the map there. Know that we have divided in three our kingdom…to shake all cares and business from our age conferring them on younger strengths… This is another example of dramatic irony because the audience knows that giving his kingdom to his daughters is a bad idea on King Lears part. They know that Goneril and Reagan will betray Lear, but Lear is not yet aware of this fact.


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The use of imagery, foreshadowing, and irony significantly develop the plays central theme of physical and figurative blindness.





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