In this sentence – I don't know what I have to do to make him see the light – what does "see the light" mean?
For someone to "see the light" is for them to be enlightened, to see a point that they previously do not see. Seeing the light, they might understand a situation better.
To talk about making other people "see the light", it means you're disappointed with them. You're disapproving of their viewpoint or conduct. You're addressing a bad habit or something that you wish they could change. Unlike "see the light of day", which we discussed some ten days ago, "see the light" means simply "see the point", the point being hitherto elusive or obscured. If they saw the light, they would, you hope, reform.
On television the other day, one woman was talking about reforming her fiancé, a drug addict, saying something like: "I've been waiting for him to see the light for years. Now, I've lost all patience. I'm sorry to say I won't marry him. Not the way he is."
Anyways, here are more media examples to help you put the phrase to use.
1. Major characters get blown up, or else they say things like "I listened to you when I was in misery, when I was lost, and it helped me tosee the light."
- Drifters: The Current Cinema, New Yorker, May 21, 2007.
2. TIME TO SEE THE LIGHT
WHICHEVER bright spark invented the energy efficient lightbulb has done the world a big favor.
They do cost a bit more than ordinary bulbs but will save you cash in the long run and help protect the Earth's resources.
Even Tony Blair has cottoned on that they are a good idea, as the Mirror revealed yesterday, and urged everyone in Britain to use them as a key part of his energy policy.
The reason they are such a great idea is that an energy efficient bulb uses less than a quarter of the electricity of a standard one and can last up to 12 times longer.
- mirror.co.uk, July 13, 2006
3. Jennifer Robinson does not hide her political allegiances and, in truth, is loud about them. A framed picture of her and former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner (D) hangs in her office. A pile of yard signs for state Sen. J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen (D-Fairfax) sits in her driveway. The back of her minivan is dotted with Democratic-themed bumper stickers.
She said she knew that her husband was a strong supporter of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, now out of the race, and that he liked Edwards. But to find out that Clinton would get his vote surprised her.
"I really did think at the last minute he'd see the light," she said, laughing. "I kind of assume he always agrees with me, but I'm finding out that's not a good assumption."
- Democrats Divided, Even at Dinner Table, Washington Post, February 9, 2008
4. What's made Bush see the light? In a word: Iraq. With his administration losing allies by the day because of its failure in Baghdad, Bush is desperate for something that might resemble a foreign policy achievement. More interesting is why the other participants expected at Bush's meeting will be there. Of course, Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas could hardly stay away: they both want to prove that, with Hamas shoved to one side, they can move forward. But Bush also plans for neighboring states to come along - Egypt and Jordan and perhaps others, too. Their motive is more intriguing and also comes down to a single word, a word which, increasingly, has become the critical one in the region: Iran.
- This flurry of Middle East activity is the product of a very real threat: Iran, The Guardian, July 18 2007