Blindness in Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI (1590-91):

  One.  Forsooth, a blind man at Saint Alban's shrine,
Within this half-hour, hath received his sight;
A man that ne'er saw in his life before.
  King.  Now, God be praised, that to believing souls
Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair!
  [Glou.]  Let me see thine eyes: wink now: now open them:
In my opinion yet thou seest not well.
  Simp.  Yes, master, clear as day, I thank God and Saint Alban.
  Glou.  Say'st thou me so? What colour is this cloak of?
  Simp.  Red, master; red as blood.
  Glou.  Why, that's well said. What colour is my gown of?
  Simp.  Black, forsooth: coal-black as jet.
  King.  Why, then, thou know'st what colour jet is of?
  Suf.  And yet, I think, jet did he never see….
  Glou.  What's thine own name?
  Simp.  Saunder Simpcox, an if it please you, master.
  Glou.  Then, Saunder, sit there, the lyingest knave
In Christendom. If thou hadst been born blind,
Thou mightest as well have known all our names as thus
To name the several colours we do wear.
Sight may distinguish of colours, but suddenly
To nominate them all, it is impossible. (2.1.61-128)

William Shakespeare, King John (1594-96):

  [Arth.]  Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes?
  Hub.  Young boy, I must.
  Arth.  And will you?
  Hub.  And I will….
  Arth.  Ah, none but in this iron age would do it!
The iron of itself, though heat red-hot,
Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears
And quench his fiery indignation
Even in the matter of mine innocence;
Nay, after that, consume away in rust
But for containing fire to harm mine eye.
Are you more stubborn-hard than hammer'd iron?
An if an angel should have come to me
And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes,
I would not have believed him – no tongue but Hubert's….
  Hub.  Well, see to live; I will not touch thine eye
For all the treasure that thine uncle owes. (4.2.39-122)

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (1596-97):

  Laun.  [Aside.]  O heavens, this is my true-begotten father! who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel blind, knows me not: I will try confusions with him.
  Gob.  Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way to master Jew's?
  Laun.  Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but, at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew's house.
  Gob.  By God's sonties, 'twill be a hard way to hit….
  Laun.  Do you not know me, father?
  Gob.  Alack, sir, I am sand-blind, I know you not. (2.2.35-74)

William Shakespeare, King Lear (1605):

  [Corn.]  Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
  Glou.  He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help! O cruel! O you gods!
  Reg.  One side will mock another; the other too.
  Corn.  If you see vengeance –
  1. Ser.  Hold your hand, my lord!
I have served you ever since I was a child;
But better service have I never done you
Than now to bid you hold.
  Reg.  How now, you dog!
  1. Ser.  If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
I'ld shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean?
  Corn.  My villain!
They draw and fight.
  1. Ser.  Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
Cornwall is wounded.
  Reg.  Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
She takes a sword and runs at him behind; kills him.
  1. Ser.  O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left
To see some mischief on him. O!
He dies.
  Corn.  Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vild jelly!
Where is thy lustre now?
  Glou.  All dark and comfortless! Where's my son Edmund?
Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature,
To quit this horrid act.
  Reg.  Out, treacherous villain!
Thou call'st on him that hates thee: it was he
That made the overture of thy treasons to us;
Who is too good to pity thee.
  Glou.  O my follies! then Edgar was abused.
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
  Reg.  Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
His way to Dover. (3.7.67-94)

Enter Gloucester led by an Old Man.
  [Edg.]  But who comes here?
My father parti-ey’d? World, world, O world!
But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
Life would not yield to age….
  Glou.  Away, get thee away. Good friend, be gone.
Thy comforts can do me no good at all.
Thee they may hurt.
  Old Man.  Alack, sir, you cannot see your way.
  Glou.  I have no way, and therefore want no eyes.
I stumbled when I saw. Full oft ’tis seen,
Our means secure us and our mere defects
Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,
The food of thy abusèd father’s wrath,
Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
I’ld say I had eyes again! (4.1.9-24)
  Glo.  'Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind. (4.1.46) 

William Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece (1593-94):

The poor, lame, blind, halt, creep, cry out for thee;
But they ne'er meet with Opportunity. (902-03)

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (1595):

  [Rom.]  He that is strucken blind cannot forget
The precious treasure of his eyesight lost. (1.1.232-33)

William Shakespeare, Sonnets (1593-1609):

Thou blind fool, Love, what dost thou to mine eyes,
That they behold, and see not what they see? (137.1-2)

William Shakespeare, As You Like It (1599):

  [Ros.]  That same wicked bastard of Venus, that was begot of thought, conceiv'd of spleen, and born of madness; that blind rascally boy, that abuses every one's eyes, because his own are out – let him be judge how deep I am in love. (4.1.211-15)

William Shakespeare, Henry V (1599):

  [Flu.]  Fortune is painted blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to signify to you that Fortune is blind. (3.6.30-32)