Characters in "King Lear"


Characters and their traits in King Lear
Mind Map by eleanor.gregory, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by eleanor.gregory almost 11 years ago

Resource summary

Characters in "King Lear"
  1. Lear
    1. Blind and irresponsible King and father.
      1. Tragic hero: he is obsessed with pride and being told how much his daughters love him all the time.
        1. His madness is his downfall - we see him go from this powerful authority to being a "old" King with no power.
        2. Does he deserve to be punished for his acts at the beginning of the play?
          1. He takes in Kent and loves the Fool showing that he does car for the lower class and respects loyalty.
            1. Audiences feel sorry for him after what happens with Gonerill and Regan because he is an old man that is being treated wrongly.
              1. His madness lets him learn the unjust place that he had ruled, that he must forgive Cordelia and that he must understand the poor.
                1. He remains self-obsessed and vengeful - he doesn't have the realisation on his own and wants to punish his daughters.
                  1. By the end of the play Lear submits himself to Cordelia's power and only sees himself as her father.
                    1. He clearly cares for Cordelia as he kills the man that hanged her.
                    2. Cordelia
                      1. Her refusal to do Lear's love test might be her rebelling against the conforms of the male characters?
                        1. Does she make way for her sisters rebellion?
                          1. She is presented as the perfect character who will restore good to the land with her return.
                            1. When she comes back into the play in the final scene everything that she says and does is good.
                              1. She is honest and just, her "nothing" is the only bit of truth spoken by the daughters.
                                1. Is she too good to be true? Was she always going to die?
                                2. Cordelia's death highlights the fact that the play is a tragedy and shows the consequences of Lear's madness.
                                  1. Cordelia, in comparison to Gonerill and Regan, is so good that her death is worth avenging.
                                    1. She is shown as being pure and very feminine; one of two types of characters used in Jacobean drama.
                                    2. Gonerill
                                      1. Gonerill is controlling at the beginning of the play - stopping Lear's authority.
                                        1. Gonerill is shown to be vicious as she is the one who has the idea to take out Gloucester's eyes.
                                          1. She takes away any authority that her husband has and turns him against her.
                                            1. She commits adultery and murder because of her lust for Edmond - turning everyone against her.
                                            2. Would be shocking to an audience as she is subverting the stereotype of a good woman.
                                              1. Some sympathy could be created for her as she is not Lear's favourite and never will be.
                                              2. Regan
                                                1. At the beginning of the play, Regan is seen as the passive sister and allows Gonerill to take control.
                                                  1. She becomes more dominant, telling Cornwall to inflict more pain on Gloucester and leading the army against Lear.
                                                    1. She is violent and masculine - running the servant through would have been a male thing to do.
                                                      1. She subverts everything that a woman was expected to be - she is jealous, treacherous and immoral.
                                                        1. Her lust for Edmond blinds her to what her sister is plotting against her as well as turning her against Gonerill.
                                                          1. Clearly defined villain - animal imagery to highlight her lack of femininity.
                                                          2. Albany
                                                            1. At the beginning it is suggested that he is so good and naiive that he has been taken in by Gonerill.
                                                              1. Doesn't say anything at the beginning so that the plot is focused on Lear and his daughters, which makes him look better later on.
                                                                1. He turns good at the end of the play and turns against Gonerill and Edmond, by arresting the latter.
                                                                  1. He becomes a voice of justice at the end - he assumes the power and allows Edgar to speak of Gloucester's death.
                                                                    1. Too little, too late - he comes in too late and there is nothing that he can do to stop the deaths of good characters.
                                                                      1. He has new energy and decisiveness when he returns, and brings the moral correctness with him.
                                                                      2. Cornwall
                                                                        1. Cornwall is much like Gonerill and Regan; ruthless and unpleasant.
                                                                          1. He is taken in by what Edmond tells them implying that he is dubious and naiive.
                                                                            1. He is working against Lear - he wants to have power, and the crown, and acts as if he is entitled to it throughout.
                                                                              1. He is responsible for the most shocking moment in the play, Gloucester's blinding, showing that he is violent and aggressive.
                                                                                1. Cornwall's purpose is to show how far the characters can sink, and then he is disposed of.
                                                                                  1. The fact that he is murdered by his servant is justice and ironic - he betrayed Lear and his servant has betrayed him.
                                                                                    1. His death makes the sister's rivalry over Edmond better.
                                                                                  2. Edmond
                                                                                    1. The motive behind his evil doings is that fact that he feels cheated about his position is society.
                                                                                      1. He will go to any length to get what he wants, and uses trickery and deception to achieve his aims.
                                                                                        1. He wants to succeed in the society - his goddess is Nature; survial of the fittest.
                                                                                          1. He never apologises for his wickedness and keeps it going right to the end when he going for the throne of England.
                                                                                            1. Destructive - he gets everything that he wants and is responsible for the deaths of the three princesses. He shows that he is unstoppable.
                                                                                              1. He draws the audience in with his intelligence, his language and his success.
                                                                                                1. He is forced to fall when good returns, and he is defeated by his brother like he defeated him earlier.
                                                                                                  1. His last line implies that he feels that loyalty is important, but he was doing it wrong.
                                                                                                  2. Edgar
                                                                                                    1. Edgar is shown as being a passive and trusting character in the first Act is easily played by his brother.
                                                                                                      1. He believes Edmond so easily suggesting that he is too good and would never think of anyone being bad.
                                                                                                        1. This proves his goodness because he is then forced to become a madman and then take control of his own life.
                                                                                                        2. His madness helps Lear and allows him to help his father and have revenge against Edmond.
                                                                                                          1. He is the good character that the audience has faith in and wants to see succeed.
                                                                                                            1. He is the only character at the end of the play that has not committed a crime against family or state.
                                                                                                              1. He also becomes a representation of justice at the end of the play - the most likely person to take over in Lear's place.
                                                                                                              2. Gloucester
                                                                                                                1. Blindness - Gloucester is totally blind to what Edmond is doing and ruthlessly casts Edgar out giving Edmond all the power.
                                                                                                                  1. Direct parallel with Lear who casts out his one good daughter.
                                                                                                                  2. Has no faith in Edgar, not trusting as a father.
                                                                                                                    1. Positive - he helps Lear out on the heath, denounces Gonerill and Regan and tries to reconcile with Edgar.
                                                                                                                      1. His pain reflects Lear's madness and his suicidal thoughts keep the end of the play bleak.
                                                                                                                        1. His willingness to die foreshadows the death at the end of the play.
                                                                                                                          1. Sympathy - he is a good character that is punished for being good.
                                                                                                                            1. He holds strong believes and looks to the gods for help.
                                                                                                                            2. The Fool
                                                                                                                              1. Comic Relief - he makes comments about characters, sings songs and breaks up the more distressing scenes.
                                                                                                                                1. Dramatic Chorus - he narrates the play and foreshadows what is going to happen at the end.
                                                                                                                                  1. He tells Lear the truth but is never banished for it.
                                                                                                                                    1. He acts as Lear's conscience - he gets him to realise his mistake with Cordelia.
                                                                                                                                      1. To represent Lear's madness and how is becomes more and and more dependent on other characters.
                                                                                                                                      2. Kent
                                                                                                                                        1. Kent is detirmined to stay loyal to Lear throughout the whole play - he speaks the truth and comes back disguised when he is banished.
                                                                                                                                          1. There is also suggestion that Kent tries to stick the old ways when things in the Kingdom are moving on - he does not want to help Poor Tom.
                                                                                                                                            1. Kent represents the hierarchy from Lear's time that is lost at the beginning of the play.
                                                                                                                                              1. He is a good character - he speaks the truth throughout, he cares for Lear and Cordelia, he stands up to the evil characters.
                                                                                                                                                1. He becomes less important and shows less of his good in the second half - foreshadowing Lear's death?
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