King Lear


Cast of Characters

King Lear: protagonist of the play and the King of Britain. Lear is growing old—and possibly mad—at the beginning of the play, and he wants to enter into a quiet retirement. He therefore gives away his land and power to his daughters, believing that they will continue to treat him with love and respect. When Lear discovers that he is wrong, he gradually loses his mind completely.

Earl of Gloucester: one of the noblemen who remains loyal to King Lear throughout the play. Gloucester, like Lear, is an elderly father, and is betrayed by his child. In many ways, the stories of Gloucester and Lear parallel each other.

Cordelia: King Lear’s youngest and sweetest daughter. Honesty and integrity are the hallmarks of her character. Because of her honesty, she refuses to flatter King Lear, and is disowned. Her love for him, however, is actually much greater than her sisters’, and she looks out for Lear and protects him from afar.

Goneril: King Lear’s eldest daughter, married to the Duke of Albany. She is thoroughly selfish, scheming and cruel in her treatment of Lear as well as everyone else. She plots to murder her own husband and poisons her sister Regan to death out of jealousy over Edmund.

Regan: King Lear’s second daughter, married to the Duke of Cornwall. She is as cruel and selfish as Goneril, and the two are united in their plot to destroy Lear’s authority. She is also responsible, with her husband, for the ghastly torture of Gloucester in which both of his eyes are plucked out. Regan competes with Goneril over the affections of Edmund.

Edgar (also Poor Tom): the legitimate son and heir of Gloucester. Edgar is at first gullible and easily manipulated by his scheming brother Edmund, but becomes wiser and more assertive as the play progresses. He cleverly disguises himself as a Bedlam beggar in order to stay alive, and ultimately defeats his treacherous brother in a duel. Like...

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Essays About King Lear