King Lear Characters guide study.

Essay by MariahHigh School, 12th gradeA+, May 2003

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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.

Goneril (wife to The Duke of Albany): Lear's selfish, ruthless daughter. When Lear asks her to profess her love for him before he gives her part of his kingdom, she professes great love for Lear, "Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;" (Act I, Scene I, Line 57). Yet, once Lear has given her half his kingdom, she shirks her obligations to host King Lear by making life so miserable at her castle that King Lear has no choice but to disown her.

The famous expression of the pain of thankless children originates in King Lear's comments of Goneril, when he exclaims, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is / To have a thankless child!" (Act I, Scene IV, Line 312).

Regan (wife to The Duke of Cornwall): The second of King Lear's daughters to falsely profess her love then betray Lear. She professes that she is "made of that self metal as my sister", adding that "I profess / Myself an enemy to all other joys / Which the most precious square of sense possesses... In your dear highness' love" (Act I Scene I, Lines 71-78). She too betrays Lear, denying him her castle on the terms obliged by...