King Lear: Character Analysis

King Lear: Character Analysis
  • Date:
    Jan 15, 2021
  • Category:
    King Lear
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Like the title of the play, the main character of the play, who also appears to be the protagonist in the play bears the name King Lear. He is a father to three daughters whom he wishes to give his Kingdom. To do so, he decides to divide it following the amount of love each daughter expresses towards him. For this reason, he gets fooled by the eldest daughters into thinking they love him the most and hence shares the most significant part of their Kingdom. The smallest daughter who genuinely loves her chooses not to fool his father with empty words, and she gets the smallest part of the Kingdom. After some time, her daughter’s real identities and their amount of love get revealed to him through their actions. The sharing of the Kingdom to his daughters marks the beginning of King Lear’s different transformations and makes him the most transformed character in the play.  

At the beginning of the play, King Lear is an arrogant Narcissistic King (Napa valley). He seems to care for people’s opinions towards him. He invites his three daughters to contest for a share of his Kingdom by expressing their love towards him verbally displaying his emotional instability. Besides, he seems to be naïve as he believes them for their words. More so, at this time, he is all you expect to see in a King. He is authoritative as he commands direct, gives excellent speeches, and respects the Kingdom as he summons his daughters who attend his presence respectfully (Napa valley). His range and pride blind him to the people who are faithful and dutiful to him. When his daughter Cordelia refuses to participate, he gets furious, chases her out of the Kingdom, and divides her third part equally among the other two daughters. The division of his Kingdom onsets his transformation as he changes from the ruling, and he’s no longer the King in leadership. At this point, he is stripped of his power as we notice he no longer receives the respect he once had as his eldest daughter does not obey her commands anymore.

Having lost his Kingdom and stripped off all his power, King Lear is presented as a new man who has no say. His daughter’s actions have a significant effect on him. Amid everything, his two daughters decide to chase him off his Kingdom, which leads him to despair, regret, and mental illness. At this point, we relate with a person who is no longer in authority and someone who behaves like a common man. These experiences change his thinking as he is no longer naïve, and he seeks to judge by the actions. He no longer falls for her daughters’ act, and he resolves the damaged relationship between him and his youngest daughter. His perspective in life changes as he rejects power and politics and places value on what matters. More so, he becomes sympathetic toward the venerable people in his Kingdom (SparkNotes). Everything seems to change King Lear into a better person.

King Lear goes through a tremendous transformation. Initially presented as a proud King who has no thought for his people, he changes into someone thoughtful and sympathetic to the people around him. Facilitated by his own poor decision-making, the King learns his lessons the hard way. Luckily, eventually, he gets the opportunity to set right some of his actions.