King Lear - Character Sketches and Scene Summaries

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        The aging king of Britain and the protagonist of the play is used to enjoying absolute power and to being flattered, and he does not respond well to being contradicted or challenged, which brings the downfall of his character. At the beginning of the play, his values are hollow, as he prefers his older daughters’ flattery over the devotion of Cordelia. He does not realize his wrongful mistake when unburdening himself of the responsibility of the kingdom. When he is at his most vulnerable, when he is full of self-pity and despair, he turns to the Fool for solace. In act 1, we suspect that his hold on reason is diminishing, and in this scene, he has lost the self control that he was very proud of, which can be seen when he mindlessly talks to nature in the stormy night. We also see that he has failed to recognize the plight of his people and only truly sees what their existence is like when he is brought down to their level, which was when he was thrown out by his daughters, representing his total loss of power and humiliation.

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        Oswald is the chief servant of Goneril, who obeys his mistress’s commands and supports her in her conspiracies. This is portrayed in Act 1, when Oswald obeys Goneril’s orders and as she pleases, he makes Lear feel useless and mistreated, whish is where we are introduced to Oswald’s brave character. He later shows his assertiveness towards Kent after losing his calm self, and thus defending his mistress’s order. In this act, Oswald again shows his loyalty towards others when informing them about Lear’s departure to Dover.


Scene 1:

Kent, in disguise, is looking for King ...

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