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King Lear

  • Date Submitted: 04/12/2012 03:04 AM
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King Lear Characters and Study Guide


Descriptions in the Times New Roman Type-face: http://absoluteshakespeare.com/guides/king_lear/characters/characters.htm

Descriptions in this Abadi Type-face:   Mabillard, Amanda. King Lear Character Introduction. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/kinglear/kinglearcharacters.html >.  

King Lear Characters guide studies each character's role and motivation in this play.

Lear, King of England: The tired ruler of England, his plan to divide his kingdom between his three daughters and then place his welfare in their trust leads to his humiliation and total loss of power at the hands of his cruel daughters, Regan and Goneril. He misjudges all those around him in the first act, banishing those who care for him the most whilst rewarding those whose kind words prove false. Only after enduring multiple humiliations and betrayals does Lear gain true wisdom and insight, only to die soon thereafter.

Childlike, passionate, cruel, kind, unlikable, and sympathetic – Lear is one of Shakespeare's most complex characters and portraying him remains a tremendous challenge to any actor. The noted Shakespearean scholar, William Hazlitt, (early 1800’s) eloquently elaborated on Lear's many dimensions:
The character of Lear itself is very finely conceived for the purpose. It is the only ground on which such a story could be built with the greatest truth and effect. It is his rash haste, his violent impetuosity, his blindness to every thing but the dictates of his passions or affections, that produces all his misfortunes, that aggravates his impatience of them, that enforces our pity for him...The greatness of Lear is not in corporal dimension, but in intellectual; the explosions of his passions are terrible as a volcano: they are storms turning up and disclosing to the bottom that rich sea, his mind, with all its...


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