Thesis: The short story “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner shows that, if we do not adopt to the changing times, we will die a lonely death like Miss Emily who never changes her ways in society.
?. Author’s information
?. Summary
?. Analysis
Characters
Miss Emily – weak minded, lonely, and psychotic
Father- the person who controls her life even after death
Homer- Miss Emily’s gay lover, who rejects her
B. Setting
Small town of Jefferson
Old house that is creepy looking
C. Symbol
1. Watch- adapting to the time and changes in yourself and society.
2. Home- symbolizes Miss Emily being closed off.
D. Lesson
1. Don’t stay stuck in your dark place when nothing is keeping you there anymore adapt to the changes or you will die a slow lonely death
2. If you don’t stand up for yourself and continue to stay in isolation you will never be
happy

E. Loneliness takes a turn
1. Emily kills her lover, keeps his dead body in a room, and sleeps with it at night, so in some way she is not lonely anymore.

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The short story ” A Rose For Emily” by Faulkner shows that the south refuses to accept social and time changes. The best theme in the short story would have to be its problem between tradition and change. In the story you’ll see how it changes from past to present. Faulkner the author comments on how the south risks itself from being stuck in the past and the can’t accept change. If we do not adopt to the changing of times, we are going to die a lonely death like Miss Emily, who never changes her way in society as the time changes.
A author who wrote prose, he came up with the Yoknapatawpha County, William Faulkner was a legend. Born September 25, 1897, in New Albany, Mississippi, and died July 6, 1962. Of four sons he was the eldest, of Murry Cuthbert and Maud Butler Falkner. He was well aware of his family’s history. His grandfather, who they called the old colonel, was a violent man, who fought in the civil war, but his was a prominent figure. His grandfather was like a dark shadow throughout his children and grandchildren’s life. “Mammy,” as she was called, was a black woman named Caroline Barr. She raised faulkner from birth until he was old enough to care for himself. How she raised him had a big impact on his life.
A very crafty man Faulkner was, he exaggerated his stories and lied about stories he would tell his friends. Faulkner wore a uniform to make him look like a lieutenant, he thought his reputation would look good. One writer had a big influence on faulkner his name was Sherwood Anderson he always gave Faulkner some good criticism. One thing particular was to write about his hometown. That’s when he made up the Yoknapatawpha County. It is a place almost identical to Lafayette County, in which Oxford, Mississippi, is located.Faulkner was known for his faithful sound of Southern speech. He shined so much light on social issues that most American writer left out, especially slavery and gender crisis. “Faulkner’s novels and short stories continue to offer readers and critics complex and never quite cohesive significations to gender and gender identities” written by Cheryl Minick. Winning the Nobel prize was an astonishing moment in his career. His legacy still is alive till this day. He captured regions beauty and not so beautiful past.
The story “A Rose for Emily” starts at Miss Emily Grierson’s funeral service. Then it flashes back in time to show the audience her childhood. Growing up Emily didn’t get much social interaction with people because of her father. She didn’t take his death well. He didn’t let her have to many guys friends or boyfriends. “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all.” as faulkner quotes in the book. So now she has no lover or family and a home by herself. After her father is buried, Emily has a mental breakdown. The people in the town had a judgemental relationship with Miss Emily well since they decided to stop billing her for taxes in 1894, they talk about her and make fun of her and who she dates is even a problem with them.
After her father dies, the summer after, Miss Emily comes in contact with Homer Barron, a yankee and his crew building sidewalks in the town. The townspeople don’t approve of this relationship and they feel the need to bring in her family to persuade her to end the relationship. People really thought she was going to kill herself, all because they were being nosey and saw her at a drugstore buying poisoning. But little do they know that wasn’t the reason. The finally felt some sympathy for her. Imagine being alone and “humanized” as the book put it. The last person with emily was her lover homer. She has gained weight, long gray hair and dies alone in the house which hasn’t seen light in years. So now we are back to her funeral. So many things were off. One they found a skeleton in an upstairs bedroom, but the strange part is, they found Miss Emily’s Hair beside the skeleton.
No matter how much we try we could never figure Miss Emily out, no one really can, she so strange. We might think of Emily as weak-minded. For her its a struggle to tell people to back off and to stop controlling her life. Her behavior changes after her father’s death, when she tries to pursue her own desires for love. Her efforts to find love fails every time and now she is back in this lifeless, loveless, unhappy reality that people including her father has made for her. The fact that he is dead and gone and she still goes back to that life says a lot. Society has put her in this role which she is unable to escape. I really feel bad for her. Its makes it hard to understand her and know the real her when she just sits behind this veil, which the town and has put on her
Emily’s father Mr. Grierson is a very controlling and presence even when he dies, and it’s clear to everyone that he has a lasting influence on emily. Emily life is lifeless no love no fun no happiness, mostly because her father. What type of father doesn’t want his daughter to have love and be happy, Emily fathers, that’s what type of father. The life she lives is so hard to get away from. The only way to escape is to die. Her father set her up to live this lonely life.
Homer Barron, the tall tan deep voice man that had the most uplifting personality. His beautiful face and body wins over the town. As Jack scherting says, ” at first they accepted her affair with benign tolerance, expecting it too soon to be ratified by marriage”. Feelings start to form and bonds start to mend and late night sunday drives are happening. Much like Miss Emily, he is an oddball and the talk of the town. The time goes by and no marriage has yet to happen, which starts to raise red flags within the town. Gay and not looking to marry, Homer decides to stay single. Which drove Emily to the edge, to her insanity as I call it. He was now the victim in a plan Miss Emily makes to keep him in her life permanently.
The setting in “A Rose for Emily” is Faulkner’s post civil-war Jefferson.A small little town with creepy vibes. The tone for this story was really set, it combined with the times and what was going on at the point in history.. As Faulkner says in the story, “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street”. The house was really a big mirror for emily if she looked in it she would see herself old and lost its beauty.
Like herself the house is a symbol for the story. Its shows how the home and miss Emily are ,much alike because at one point in time both were wealthy or brought wealth and both have lost their standing in the most high. A reflection of Emily the house bares its stubborn decay to the residents in the town. The death of Emily was like death that the townspeople had been waiting on to get all the accusations and suspiciousness that they had been having. The hair that was found at the end of the story was also a symbol. Symbolizing what lengths people will go to in the pursuit of happiness.
Floyd Watkins mentions in his article,”In youth Emily id not wholly separated from her somewhat sympathetic environment”. This life that she lives is just a childhood never adulthood, and its not her fault. The day she was born until the day she died was childhood. To me miss Emily never grew up. A life strictly ruled by her father. Miss Emily can not find her own life. People were somewhat happy when here father died because they thought she would have a chance to get a life of her own. Everytime something good happens it’s like it goes away.

The love of her life has lied to her and rejected her love. This drove her to insanity, to the point where she killed him and didn’t want to let him go so she keeps his body for decades.”Emily’s motivation is obscure, in much of the critical commentary on the work is an attempt to discern a coherent rationale for her actions, to find a motive for Emily”Dennis Allen says in his article. This just goes to show us how empty and isolated Emily was. From the start to finish the house smelled. Her father’s death was not real to her she didn’t want to believe he was gone. The town wasn’t surprised by this, neither did they call her crazy, because they knew how much he meant to her and that he was all she had in this life. So when homer shows up things change a lot. The town didn’t like that at all, because his social class was so low and they thought Emily was lowering her reputation. They even went as far as calling in her family. Nobody even knew Emily was s sick before she died.
William Faulkner creates a story that includes many ideas about society and how it functions in a specific time period in the South. It was so much put into this short story.”A Rose for Emily” is an important part in literature due to study of the effects of change created in the old times in the South. Everything that was thrown at Miss Emily made her sink so low and it was just sad how depressed she was. It’s like no one helped her and everyone just judge her and made her feel like an outcast. The town had so much to say about Emily and her life but no one ever helped her escape that loneliness.

In Ruth Sullivans article she comments, “As a tragic tale of a woman’s noble but doomed effort to resist the forces of time, change, and death, and as a tale of the catastrophe that can result when someone allows illusion to become confused with reality.” She shut herself out from the rest of the world. No one helped her or opened up her eyes to the changing times in society. So she just lost it and went insane and eventually sunk so low to a dark lonely place which caused her to do things unspeakable. It’s so important to move as times move because youll get stuck in tradition and with society if you don’t adapt to the changes.

Thesis: King Lear’s intellectual blindness parallels Gloucester’s physical blindness

In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, blindness was the theme occurring in the main plot and subplot of the play. King Lear and Earl of Gloucester portrayed this important theme by being irrational and ignorant towards their children. As a consequence, Gloucester lost his eyesight in order to realise his mistakes, whereas Lear gained understanding when he witnessed the death of his loving daughter Cordelia. Shakespeare’s purpose was to show blindness is not only a physical trait but also a mental flaw in a person. After reading and analysing the play, I have come to the conclusion that King Lear’s lack of insight parallels Gloucester’s latter lack of eyesight. I found many critics in different time periods that are aligned with my hypothesis. The three main critics and time periods I have studied are Robert B. Heilman “The Unity of King Lear” (1948), Fintan O’Toole “Shakespeare is Hard But so is Life” (20th Century), and Edward Dowden “From Shakespeare” (1893).

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At the beginning of the play, we were introduced Lear as a man full of authority and power; that he took his role seriously. The audience saw how Lear seemed to have an insight into who he was and where he belonged. This was evident when he declared a division of his kingdom between Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Lear told them, “Tell me my daughters, which of thee doth love us most, that we our largest bounty may extend?”(Act 1, Scene 1) Special treatment was disregarded for his daughters which shows Lear treated them as one of his subjects. It was in his nature to declare orders for he was the king. He declared a “Love Test” in order for him to identify how much they love him and whether they were deserving to inherit the kingdom. However, his “Love Test” shows he the lacked insight of his daughter’s true characters from being dependent on appearance and number of words his three daughters will testify.

The eldest daughter Goneril made this flaw of Lear obvious, she declared, “Sir I doth love you more than words can wield the matter; Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty; Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;” (Act 1, Scene 1) With this statement, Lear was instantly deceived because he was pleased by the flattering words of Goneril. He then gave a part of his kingdom to her.

To further satisfy himself, he asked his second daughter Regan to testify her undying devotion. Regan stated, “And find I am alone felicitate In your dear highness’ love.” (Act 1, Scene 1) Again, he was flattered by the deceptive words she used so he gave another part of his kingdom to her.

Critic Robert B. Heilman (1948, from The Unity of King Lear) stated that “Lear’s tragic flaw is the whole being of Goneril and Regan… In dividing the land, Lear introduces a principle which Goneril and Regan carry on to a logical extreme; they show what happens when an element of him is freed from the restraint imposed by the rest of his personality.” I fully agree because Lear lacked the insight of Regan and Goneril’s greedy intentions at the start of the play. Blindness was an “element” that made Lear fixate on self-assurance that everybody must be loyal and truthful to him for he was in the highest rank during that time. He recklessly made poor judgements without bearing in mind the consequences in the future. Consequently, the real affection of love from as a father was not felt by Regan and Goneril, therefore, they became manipulative in order to eliminate Lear from his position and take away all his power and possessions. Lear lacked insight that this was the start of his downfall. We could see this mental flaw recurring when he lacked knowledge that his youngest daughter Cordelia was the only truthful to him as she stated, “..I am sure, my love’s More richer than my tongue.” (Act 1, Scene 1) Readers can see that Cordelia chose to express her love in a silent manner by refusing to participate in the public devotion of love for her father. Lear’s authority was challenged by this refusal, so in order to make things easier for him, he banished her from the kingdom in an inconsiderate manner, “Here I disclaim all my paternal care Propinquity and property of blood.” Even though Cordelia was disowned by her father, she still continued to love him in a way that she knew was truthful. Through Cordelia, we are able to learn that loyalty is not always expressed by the quantity of words but how willing we are to sacrifice our own benefits just for the sake of our loved ones. Heilman (1948) further stated, “in another striking failure of imagination – completely misses the import of Cordelia’s precise metaphor, ‘I love your Majesty/ According to my bond; no more no less’.” I completely agree with this statement because when we are blinded by our power we begin to destroy family relationships and close friends, thus, we become ignorant of our deepest values and beliefs. In Lear’s perspective, nothing matters to him anymore as long as he would remain powerful despite giving up the kingdom to his daughters.

As the scene progressed, Lear’s intellectual blindness resulted in him to banish his loyal servant Kent. Kent told Lear, “Whom I have ever honored as my king, Loved as my father, as my master followed, As my great patron thought on in my prayers” (Act 1, Scene 1) This line emphasised Lear’s lack of insight as Kent needed to point out how truthful of a servant he was to Lear and that he was willing to sacrifice his own benefits, just like Cordelia. Readers can see that Kent was not afraid to be straightforward when he told Lear it was a tragic decision to surrender the kingdom to the elder daughters. Obviously, he became ignorant of the truth which shows he corrupted his power for his own interests. When Kent confronted him with honest words, it was difficult for him to accept that he himself as a king was lacking wisdom. Therefore, with his pride, he mistakenly banished Kent by telling him, “Out of my sight.” (Act 1, Scene 1). By banishing two people that were honest and faithful to him, we know that it was the start for Lear to become powerless, hence, it will lead to his ultimate downfall in the future. In this scene, Shakespeare taught us that we do not realise how trapped we are inside our own identity when we are excessively attached to our fortune, fame, flatter and/or power. We become ignorant of the truth in front of us when we are afraid of conflicts and change within ourselves. We do not like the feeling of being mentally blinded, therefore, we are only accepting the information that is flattering to our ears. Like Lear, when we are blinded by power, we tend to choose the wrong path just to get everything we want rather than choosing the right path.

The theme of blindness was paralleled in the subplot of the play where Gloucester lacked insight between his wicked son and pure son. In Act 1, Scene 1, Earl of Gloucester introduced his two sons by differentiating, Edgar as “a son by order of law” and Edmund as “whoreson”. His description revealed a character who lacked knowledge how reckless his use of language was. We further recognise this type of behaviour when he told Kent that, “this young fellow’s mother could, whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed”, knowing that Edmund was standing right next to him. Clearly, he was embarrassed to have an illegitimate son. Similar to Lear, Gloucester was mentally blinded to see that he imposed negativity in Edmund’s heart. Edmund expressed his resentment, “Why “bastard”? Wherefore “base”? When my dimensions are as well compact, My mind as generous, and my shape as true As honest madam’s issue?” With this statement, Edmund felt excluded and unfortunate to be part of the family. He felt disregarded and unfortunate to be part of the family. These feelings were the driving force for Edmund to plot against his own family for his benefit. Hence, we learn that Gloucester’s blindness was the start of his downfall.

Heilman (1948) stated that “Gloucester is the passive man who is too ready to fall in with whatever influences are brought to bear upon him.” Heilman made an accurate point because we can see how Gloucester avoided to solving the problems in the second act of the play. Edmund introduced a letter to his father to convince him of the treachery of his legitimate son. Gloucester angrily stated, “O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain—worse than brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him. I’ll apprehend him. Abominable villain!” (Act 2, Scene 1) Like Lear, he became reckless to judge that Edgar was plotting against his life despite the insufficient evidence hinted in Edmund’s lines, “It is his hand, my lord” (Act 2, Scene 1). The deceptive letter of his “bastard” son symbolises Gloucester’s difficulties to handle principles of integrity under pressure, whether he would believe Edmund’s accusations towards Edgar. Because of this mental barrier, he became ignorant to investigate the situation further and took things at face value, which is paralleled to Lear’s “Love Test”. Like Regan and Goneril, Edmund was intelligent to take advantage of his father’s mental flaw as he knew Gloucester had a foolish belief, “These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects”, was the cause of Edgar’s betrayal. This mindset proved the irrationality of Gloucester because he relied on astronomy instead of evaluating the meaning behind Edmund’s words. For this reason, it parallels to Lear’s own fatal flaw as Gloucester was also ignorant to investigate the allegations of Edmund further. Both Lear and Gloucester lacked the insight of their faithful children, Cordelia and Edgar, and fell under the influences of their wicked children, Regan, Goneril and Edmund. We can see both of their mistakes paralleled in different situations; Lear demonstrated that when we are blinded by power, we become more concerned of our benefit and safety, which can be seen by Gloucester’s actions. This was evident when Gloucester told Edmund, “seek him out, wind me into him, I pray you”, obviously he was afraid to face conflict. At this point, we can see Edmund’s success in destroying their relationship. Consequently, Edgar was stripped of his identity and was forced to disguise as the beggar “Poor Tom.”
Overall, Gloucester was emotionally blinded because he lacked the insight of the people around him. In our real world, Shakespeare teaches us when we do not have insight in life, we tend to decision passively, thus, we unconsciously fail to show empathy towards the people that are close to us, especially to our family. Also, when we do act passively, it becomes harder for us to conquer our fears in life and our listening skills becomes poor, therefore, we form a negative outlook in life. Moreover, Shakespeare shows us how cruel and manipulative the human nature can be when we are lacking knowledge of our surroundings. Shakespeare further emphasises this idea with the way Lear and Gloucester deal with their greedy children in the next part of the play.

As the play progressed, we can now see more consequences of Lear’s poor judgement towards his daughters. When his two daughters successfully pleased Lear’s thirst for love and loyalty, they were able to disregard him of his superficial needs and show ungraciousness to Lear. Certainly, Regan and Goneril were in a higher position for Lear stated, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is to have a thankless child?”. Lear chose to walk out into the storm to grieve his anger and therefore, he started to acknowledge the huge mistake of surrendering the kingdom to his elder daughters. Critic Edward Doden (1893) elaborates, “he has found that instead of being a master, at whose nod all things must bow, he is weak and helpless, a sport event of the wind and the rain.” I fully agree because the cruel nature of the storm helped him to gain an understanding of Regan and Goneril’s greed for power and possessions. Also, he began to gain an understanding that Kent and Cordelia were truly honest and loyal to him when he acknowledged, “the art of our necessities is strange/That can make vile things precious” (Act 3, Scene 2). Through the storm, Lear had gone through the reality of life as a common human and he admitted this reduction in his status as he stated, “Here I stand you slave – a poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.” He came to an understanding that he didn’t show any compassion and sympathy because he had “ta’en too little care of” Cordelia and Kent as he was more focused in his own pleasures as a king. Lear further emphasised this change in him when he met “Poor Tom”, he realised that “Unaccommodated man as we are such but a poor, barefooted animal,” showing that we are nothing more than animals, we are all equal underneath all these items of clothings we were. Moreover, he was gradually finding humility in himself. Shakespeare shows we are all just like Lear, due to his pride he was blinded from the truth. For us to be able to see or change ourselves we have to let pride go. Yet we only realise this when we are put into situations out of our comfort zone and when our identity is questioned. Also, undergoing “storm” in our lives helps us to learn that we cannot force everybody to remain loyal and truthful to us.

In the same sequence of events, Gloucester paid for his lack of insight and trust in Edmund in the most tragic way. Gloucester stated, “These injuries the king now bears will be revenged home; there’s part of a power already footed. We must incline to the king. ” (Act 3, Scene 3). Gloucester appears to be a true allegiance to Lear because he disobeyed Regan and Cornwall’s orders in order to provide shelter for Lear from being out in the storm. Meanwhile, Critic Heilman (1948) argued that “He does pity Lear, but is equally true that to be pro-Lear may be a good thing” I disagree with his point of view because if he did pity Lear, he would not be willing to sacrifice his own life despite knowing that Regan and Cornwall will seize his life, for he stated that”Though I die for it—as no less is threatened me—the king my old master must be relieved.” Also, I do not agree that it was a “good thing” for Gloucester to be “pro-Lear” because Edmund was quick to realise that Lear was more valuable in Gloucester’s heart than him as his child. Consequently, he stated, “This courtesy, forbid thee, shall the duke Instantly know, and of that letter too”, an opportunity he found to betray his father by informing Goneril and Regan about Gloucester’s loyalty to Lear. Heilman (1948) further stated that “the man who accepts too easily is punished at his one moment of high affirmation.” I do agree because Gloucester was able to gain insight into Edmund’s treachery when his eyes were taken out by Cornwall. Here, we learn that his gullibility at the start of the play was replaced with full clarity. Cornwall further emphasised this dark moment, “Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot.” At this point, Shakespeare portrays a great message that gaining self-understanding is not always an easy road. When we constantly move life without vision, we are forced to undergo pain and hardships in life. This way, we become stronger human beings who can conquer the world without any fears. As Gloucester stated, “I have no way, and therefore want no eyes. I stumbled when I saw.” Clearly, he learnt that insight was better than having eyesight. Also, we see that it took him a lot of courage to admit that “Edgar was abused” and it was a mistake to trust Edmund. Readers can see the development of Gloucester’s character. Therefore, this links back to the similar situation of King Lear.

We see a full change of Lear when he admitted his wrongdoings. After all the suffering he went through, he finally ‘sees’ the truth. Lear finds his humility after he ‘reconciles’ with his daughter, Cordelia. When they were reunited, Lear asked for forgiveness. “We too alone sing like birds in the cage. When thou dost ask for blessing, I’ll kneel down and ask thee for forgiveness. So we’ll live and pray, and sing and tell old tales and laugh at gilded butterflies.” He realised that the only person that made him truly happy and full is Cordelia. Since Lear only knew authority his whole life and standing strong, when he was faced in vulnerable situations, his identity had been questioned. Going through all these sufferings made Lear realise that life is not easy or fair on anyone. He realised that he doesn’t truly know himself by the way people were treating him and only, in the end, he gained a better understanding that having power is nothing but compared to having someone who truly cares and loves you.

Critic Fintan O’Toole (20th Century) stated that “Gloucester and Lear can overlook the human suffering around them, can ‘not see because he does not feel.’ Having put his feet on the ground that the common people walk in Gloucester says to Lear he can ‘see…feelingly.” I fully agree because both of them gained insight after being stripped bare, without their power and knights, they are just a normal person. In my opinion, the blindness of Gloucester and Lear to their children portrayed a great lesson to many readers. The greed for power and position in the kingdom of their children was the fruit of their lack of insight towards them. I believe the evil children wouldn’t have turned out to be wicked if only Lear and Gloucester acknowledged each one of them equally in their eyes. For Lear, he didn’t have to declare a “Love Test” just to understand the most devoted daughter to him. For Gloucester, he shouldn’t have described Edmund as “illegitimate” for this caused Edmund to change his perception of him by creating a letter that described Edgar as the villain son. As a result of their lack of insight of their children, they had to undergo traumatic events in the play in order to gain full insight. Shakespeare purposely made Lear walk out into the storm so that Lear could gain a deep understanding of the true personalities of his daughters. This also resulted in Lear to realise that a luxurious lifestyle didn’t provide everything he needed as he, who was above of the great chain of being was manipulated by his own daughters. Through this realisation, he was also able to realise his own flaws at the beginning of the play. This is similar to Gloucester’s blindness as it was evident how nobility who appeared to be enjoying a good life could still have imperfections and lessons for them which need to be understood. Through Gloucester, it portrayed the importance of full insight set up by Lear because it was evident that this imperfection didn’t only happen in Lear but could occur to many events and various kinds of people.

After studying and analysing the play and the critics, I have concluded that Lear’s intellectual blindness parallels Gloucester. Like Lear and Gloucester, we are clouded by our own lack of judgement and sometimes unable to identify if our actions are moral or immoral. Each one of us has flaws and mistakes but Shakespeare taught us that we can be better than our own perception when we examine the situation and to seek the truth first before accusing something or someone. Thus do not become ignorant by what we believe is right. We should learn that sometimes we have to open our minds to other people’s opinion because we can still learn many things from them whether they are in a higher or lower rank than us. We should be accepting of different opinions and beliefs at all times so that we wouldn’t end up regretting the judgements we intend to make because it is our nature as humans to choose the wrong path even though we know the difference between right and wrong. Overall, Shakespeare indicates that physical flaw one can still carry on living life normally as long as their understanding remains intact. For with intellectual blindness, it is the same of being visionless as blind faith in someone may probably result in one’s downfall as portrayed by Gloucester. Therefore, having insight in life is highly important in order for us to see the reality and create wise decisions.

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