In Tiriel, it's mentioned several times that Tiriel is blind, first in Chapter I, line 27:

Look at my eyes, blind as the orbless skull among the stones!

And later again in Chapter II, lines 61-65:

Soon as the blind wanderer enter’d the pleasant gardens of Har,
They ran weeping, like frighted infants, for refuge in Mnetha’s arms.
The blind man felt his way, and cried: ‘Peace to these open doors!
Let no one fear, for poor blind Tiriel hurts none but himself.
Tell me, O friends, where am I now, and in what pleasant place?’

As well as several more times afterward.

My immediate thought when I first read Chapter I was that it symbolized his lack of empathy (i.e. metaphorical blindness to the feelings of others), which led his sons to revolt and throw him out, but he does seem genuinely sad that his wife, Myratana, has died. Also, the arc of the story didn't seem to quite fit this reading. His lack of empathy doesn't seem to ever come back to bite him in a straightforward way: he gets exactly what he wanted, killing all his children with his curse; his brothers Ijim and Zazel remain in exile where he put them; and he dies as he wanted, cursing his own father, Har, for creating one set of laws meant to apply to everyone. Aside from the rebellion of his sons, everything pretty much seems to go his way.

What does the blindness signify?


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