Last Modification Monday July 14, 2003 15:00  
Essential Characters of King Lear
King Lear - Regan - Goneril - Coredlia - Gloucester - Edgar - Edmund - Kent - Cornwall - Albany - The Fool - Oswald - Burgandy - King of France

King Lear- 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 he deserved.

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 father, Gloucester.

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 on her.

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.


Copyright 1999-2003 Jeremy Bandini


Table of Contents for the full text of King Lear compiled by MIT

Characters, setting, etc...

Act 1

Act 2

Act 3

Act 4

Act 5

Entire play as one page.

Original Content on this site is copyright Jeremy Bandini 1998-2003. Site Design by NMD