The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia utilizes light and blindness as metaphors related to the Divine because it has roots in philosophical texts such as Philokalia written around Christian ideals in which describe the level of connectedness to the Holy Spirit through light. Thus, one can be light itself or can suffer from complete loss of sight. “St. Simeon The New Theologian” focuses on a young man named George who finds his way to eternal life despite only following a few simple steps. During prayer George claims that a, “brilliant Divine radiance descended on him from above and filled all the room,” and he, “became wholly dissolved in this transubstantial light and it seemed to him that he himself became light.” (Kadloubovsky, 145-146). Light becomes a metaphor for the “spiritual sun of truth, our Lord Jesus Christ,” and whoever is illuminated by the Holy Spirit is no longer phased by pleasures that tempt the human flesh (Kadloubovsky, 147-148). Thus, an individual does not possess light; it possesses an individual.* In addition, the act of being blind correlates to the lack of the ability for one to see and thus, become light.
Darkness is the opposite to light, and logically one that is considered metaphorically blind succumbs to sins and is in a constant state of darkness. Arcadia uses this metaphor when the reader is informed of Gynecia’s prison cell. Gynecia lamenting her evil mind is, “suffer[ing] the fire brands of her own thoughts, especially when it grew dark, and had nothing left by her but a little lamp whose small light to a perplexed mind might rather yield fearful shadows than any assured sight” (Sidney, 798). Therefore, despite the small light source, it is made clear that Gynecia does not have the capacity to see. This goes beyond the literal sense of not being able to see in the darkness. Metaphorically Gynecia not being able to see represents her mind and body having been overcome by evil. Hence, after accidently poisoning her husband Basilius due to her lust and jealousy, Gynecia is the opposite of light and all that is Divine. This is further explored by her dream of Philanax, “haling her by the hair of the head, and having put out her eyes” (Sidney 799). Here she literally envisions herself becoming blinded because of her sins to which she believes will be punished by death. Thus, a pattern is observed in both Arcadia and Philokalia relating the absence of sight to the absence of Divinity. It then can be hypothesized that literary works influenced by Christianity outside of Arcadia will also connect being illuminated by light to being visited by the Holy Spirit. In addition, when the idea of darkness appears in Christian literary works, it can be interpreted as evil. **
*Chiasmus; Farnsworth Book
**Induction; May Book