The namesake of the play. King Lear is an old man whose pride
costs him everything. The tragedy of the play ultimately kills
him, but before he has become aware of his folly. Though his
pride caused most of his problems, he had more against him than
Regan- One of the two "evil" sisters
in the play who lavish Lear with praise to receive power and
land. Speaking after Goneril she attempts to tell King Lear she
loves him most, but ironically she is the first to openly betray
him. Her husband is the Duke of Cornwall
Goneril- The other "evil" sister.
She and her sister play a critical role in both the tragedy,
and driving Lear insane. The Duke of Albany is her husband.
Cordelia- The youngest
of Lear's daughters. She is Lear's favorite, and is the one that
truly loves Lear the most. Unfortunately, her honesty costs her
her inheritance. The angry Lear casts his daughter out, giving
her to the King of France. Cordelia proves herself to Lear in
the end as the true daughter that she is.
The Earl of Glocester-
the Earl is a part of a parallel plot throughout the novel. He
suffers from a similar scenario as Lear and acts just as irresponsibly.
His sons are Edgar and the bastard Edmund.
Edgar- Glocester's legitimate
son, and the oldest. His role with the secondary plot is nearly
identical to Cordelia's with Lear. He integrity leads him to
be driven off into the woods where he spends much of the play
in disguise as a beggar.
Edmund- Gloucester's bastard
son is conniving much like Regan and Goneril (in fact, the three
are involved in a love triangle deep within the plays plot).
Edmund causes the struggle between his brother, Edgar, and his
Kent- One of Lear's true allies.
He is cast out by Lear for his blunt honesty, but disguises himself
so that he may still guide the King. This honesty manages to
get him in the stocks for part of the play!
The Duke of Cornwall-
Regan's husband. He is one of the most evil and cruel individuals
in the play. Cornwall gives the order to take the innocent Gloucester's
eyes among other sinister deeds.
The Duke of Albany-
Another bright spot in the play. Though his wife, Goneril, is
evil he manages to be virtuous and gentle throughout the play.
He is one of the few survivors in the end.
The Fool- An interesting
character with many confusing lines. He is devoted to both Lear
and Cordelia. It seems his statements, though bewildering, often
carry much truth. This serves to irritate the unsuspecting Lear
who deeply loves his Fool.
Oswald- A superficial henchman
of Goneril. He lacks any honor, or integrity. Though his is a
steward by title, he shows no depth to warrant such a rank.
The Duke of Burgandy-
One of the two suitors attempting to take Cordelia's hand in
marriage. He no longer wants her once Lear has bestowed no land
The King of France-
Cordelia's husband. He took Cordelia for her virtue and overlooked
her lack of land. He later unsuccessfully raids England with
Cordelia which ultimately brings her and Lear together again.