King lear play characters and their roles

King Lear

Each of the characters has a significant role to play in developing the various themes of the play in the play “King Lear.” Their views are nevertheless different, especially with respect to their caricatures as depicted by their behaviors. Their interaction and dialogues reflect the caricatures and their view as influenced by their immediate positions in the society and in nature as brought out in this paper. To talk about every character in the king lear, a chart would bring out a clear distinction in the views of every character in the play. The information is placed as follow:

Character Caricatures Views and Opinions
Lear, King of Britain Lear was an old king who originally divides his kingdom amongst his own three daughters. At the beginning, all he cares for was his kingdom and respect from his people (Moore and Bernard, pg7, Scene 1, Act 1). He however ends up denying this offer to Cordelia because he sees that she would not flatter the king as her sisters would (Moore and Bernard, pg7, Scene 1, Act 1). The king ends up banishing Cordelia but he later regrets this action. To the king, he has the views and opinion that his daughters should treat him as he likes (Moore and Bernard, pg5, Scene 2, Act 1). He feels that he has the power to whatever pleases his as the King of Britain to an extent of banishing his own daughter. His action hardly considers the implications such as the respective reactions from his other two daughters. The two daughters react horribly against the king and treat him in a horrible manner against his expectations. This treatment makes the king regret his actions but he finds that the only way he could avoid the immediate situation is to flee to the woods. While in the woods, he comes across poor tom, who is a mad man. Contrary to what a king would do as nature at that time would entail, the king sympathizes with the lunatic, wishing to reduce himself to an essential individual. The king unfortunately goes mad as well but he is later helped by Kent and Gloucester to Dover. Contrary to his expectations, he is reunited with Cordelia. They both lead war against France but they lose the war and ends up being taken as prisoners. Cordelia dies and his father grieves her before he dies as well.
King of France This king is a Cornelia’s suitor. Irrespective of what other kingdoms would react to a royal daughter who has just lost her inheritance, France is hardly turned away when Cordelia loss her inheritance. The King of France still finds her very attractive. The King of France marries Cordelia but and decides help her in her ravage against Lear for the maltreatment he had given to her. This King has a contrasting opinion and views with King Lear in that a daughter has the right to inheritance. His position as a king helps Cordelia to decide to fight back her father. The three characters in this case have contradicting opinions since Lear is very remorseful of his earlier actions and Cordelia is ready to join his father. Together they decide to fight back, an action, which make them be taken prisoners (Moore and Bernard).
Duke of Burgundy

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His behavior is hardly considerate, and gives an impression that he was mainly after the inheritance but hardly after a good marriage relationship with Cordelia. The king sees him a good person, who would be responsible for the king’s daughter (Moore and Bernard, pg5, Scene II, Act1). His opinions are that he could only accept her with her promised inheritance. The Duke of Burgundy has a different view from that of the French king towards Cordelia. Unlike the point of view by the King of France, that Cordelia is still perfect without any inheritance, the Duke of Burgundy turns down his intentions to be a suitor for Cordelia just because she had lost her inheritance.
Duke of Cornwall


The Duke of Cornwall is the husband of Regan. Like Regan, the Duke of Cornwall is cruel and vile. Contrary, the king believes in him (Moore and Bernard, pg5, Scene II, Act1).He lives a cruel life although he has some sense of trust especially in Edmund. This trust is built after Edmund betrays his father, implying that he could only lead a life alongside people portraying a similar character of cruelty and vileness. This duke also blinds Gloucester. He believes in a cruel life but this makes him end up being surrounded by cruel individuals. He is even given a fatal blow by a servant as the servant is trying to defend Gloucester. He view that being helpful to other can makes him achieve some of his dreams. He thus becomes helpful by leading a fight against France and takes mercy on Lear and Cordelia. He leads a life of dealing with the bad figures in the society since he believes that the society should be a peaceful place for all and should not be filled with cruelty and vileness. He thus helps Edgar kill Edmund and tries to right most of the wrong behaviors through the reinstatement of Lear’s absolute power. He even chooses Edgar and Kent as joint rules after Lear dies.
Duke of Albany


This character represents General’s husband. He first seems to be like Cornwell in character and behavior but after learning the Lear was cruel towards his daughters, the Duke of Albany changes his character and becomes very moral (Moore and Bernard, pg19, Scene II, Act 2). He holds the view that Goneril should not have a cruel life for the rest of her life but instead, she required some special treatment. He is at some point enraged with his wife calling referring to her as a monster. He view that being good to those who experienced some difficult time at some point would be of great help.
Earl of Kent


This character is outraged by the disinheritance of Cordelia by Lear, and it supports her decision. This makes him being banished too (Moore and Bernard, pg21, Scene III, Act 2). He decides to return but disguised as a servant Caius. In his servant position, he makes it to help Lear. He views that leading a good behavior is good for his dream accomplishment in the play. His action depicts that he view loyalty as a good virtue but his good character contradicts with the evil decision of the king (Moore and Bernard, pg12, Scene III, Act1). He views that Lear’s family reconciliation would be good to him. He thus exchanges communication with Cordelia. He later accompanies Lear to Dover thereby reconciling him with his good daughter, Cordelia. He refuses the offer to rule alongside Kent as given by Albany.


Earl of Gloucester


This character is parallel to Lear (Moore and Bernard, page 12, scene III, Act 1). He highly trust his son, Edmund, and believes in his secretes that he would be killed by Edgar. He ends up being betrayed by Edmund. He is blinded for his character of being a traitor. This character is easily tricked as he is betrayed by Edmund, his son. He is easily blinded and adjusts to various situations easily. This is revealed by the ease of being tricked by Tom, a poor character, out of committing suicide. He is even overwhelmed by the news depicting the identity of Edger.  His views are that one can best survive by being close to those in power. This is why he is parallel to the king and trusts his son, Edmund despite his poor actions to gain power.
Edgar He is hunted by Gloucester through his men after the trickery of Edmund (Moore and Bernard, page 13, scene III, Act 1). He disguises himself as the poor Tom, who is considered a demonic madman. He has a good character as he tries to reunite the king with Cordelia, the king’s good daughter. He survives many dangers by being tricky and disguising. His good image to the public makes him become the king at the end.



He views that the group of friends is torturing him. He knows that the best way to survive is by attracting the sympathy of King Lear. He thus blinds the king and leads him to Dover. He views that loyalty and being good can improve his life (Moore and Bernard, pg10, Scene III, Act1).
Edmund He is very resentful due to his cruel drive for power and illegitimacy. This is seen when he plots against his father and his brother, which makes him succeed (Moore and Bernard, pg11, sceneIII, Act1). He gains even more power after Cornwall dies. Goneril and Regan still vie for his marriage hand but contrary to their background, he decides to kill their sister Cordelia and Lear after defeating them in battle. He is however killed by Edgar after confessing his crimes. He views that the only way he can achieve power is by acting in a cruel way. This aspect ultimately leads him to a failure.
Lear’s Fool


This is the hired fool of the court. He regularly attends Lear. He points out different truths as they are ignored or missed. He hardly likes the idea of banishing Cordelia by Lear (Moore and Bernard, page 13, scene III, Act 1). This character is open-minded and through his foolishness and ignorance, he hardly reflects what could happen when he reveal various secretes. He has open view of being good in the sense that he believes that people need to receive good treatments in the society. He has the view that a free world would allow him speak about any issue and act freely.
Goneril This is the eldest daughter. She contrives to get Lear out of his power right from the beginning. She brings her second sister in to flatter their father. She even drives Lear out of her house with coldness. They both reject him and throw him to the storm. She does many evil deeds such as poisoning Regan out of jealousy. Her life remains miserable throughout and ends up stubbing herself to death.



This daughter is cruel as depicted by the way she treats her father and attracts her sister into the same behavior (Moore and Bernard, page 13, scene III, Act 1). Her views are full of cruelty. The forces of nature and fate lead her to the same harsh treatment from her husband. She as well tries to kill her husband through Edmund. She is completely evil since she holds a belief that cruelty could lead her to great heights in life.
Regan She is also an evil daughter of Lear as she conspires with her elder sister to strip their father out of power. They send him into the storm. She helps Cornwall in punishing Gloucester (Moore and Bernard, page 19, scene II, Act 2). She kills the servant herself. She even wants Edmund as her husband especially given that he seems to accelerate in power through his wickedness. This creates conflict between the two sisters. She is however poisoned to death by her elder sister. She is very cruel and through her wickedness, she is after people of her character including Edmund and her sister. They all die miserable deaths.
Cordelia This is the good daughter. She refuses to flatter her father using false estimates of love. This makes her being banished and losing her inheritance. Lear says, “I loved her most, and in her tender trust Design’d to have bestow’d mine age at ease,” (Moore and Bernard, pg7, Scene 1, Act 1). Her mind is different and is ready to face any treatment out of her good behavior and deeds. She ends up become the Queen of France. Despite the poor treatment she had received from her father, she decides to take care of his health condition by taking him to a doctor. She is killed by Edmund before Albany could send any help especially given that France had lost the war. It turns out that Lear ends up loving her and wishing to spend most of his time with her. He carries her body and dies in the final scene with her body in his arms.



She believes in good life full of good behavior and deeds. She sacrifices her good life for good and trustworthy behavior. She even receives a caring husband. She turns out to be the only daughter who dies as a queen.

Works Cited

Moore, WM. A and C. S. Bernard. King Lear. New York: Harvard College library , 1860.




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