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King Lear Character Analysis

What role does Lear have in the play?
He’s the protagonist.

What is Lear’s basic flaw at the beginning of the play?
He values appearances over reality.

What does Lear want?
To be treated as a king and enjoy the title without any of the responsibility.

What leads to the death of many?
His willingness to believe his older daughters’ empty flattery.

What does Lear not respond well to?
Being challenged or contradicted.

What does his ‘love test’ reveal?
That he values a flattering public display of love over real love.

What does Lear’s use of the ‘love test’ demonstrate?
That he lacks common sense or the ability to detect his older daughters’ falseness.

What does he crave?
Flattery.

What can’t he recognise?
Cordelia’s honesty amid the flattery.

What do most readers conclude?
That Lear is simply blind to the truth.

What was Lear’s first mistake?
Separating power and responsibility.

What do Goneril and Regan resent Lear for?
Why?
Acting as if he is still in charge.
They are ready to run their own lives and their own kingdoms.

What can we infer from the depth of anger he shows towards Kent?
Excessive pride — Lear refuses to be wrong.

What still shocks Lear?
That his daughters assert their independence from him after ‘I gave you all’.

What does Lear’s excessive anger towards Kent also suggest?
The fragility of his emotional state.

However, what does Lear presumably know already?
That Cordelia loves him the most because she was his favourite daughter at the start of the play.

What does Lear value most at the start of the play?
G/R fawning over Cordelia’s sincere sense of filial duty.

Define filial.
Relating to or due from a son or daughter.

What is an important question to ask?
Whether Lear develops as a character- whether he learns from his mistakes and becomes a better, more insightful human.

How do his values change over the course of the play?
He realizes his weakness and insignificance in comparison to the greater forces of the natural world.

What does Lear become by the end of the play?
He becomes a humble and caring individual.

What does he do by the end of the play?
He cherishes Cordelia above everything else and to place his love for Cordelia above every other consideration.

What is an example of him cherishing his love for Cordelia?
He would rather live in prison with her than rule as a king again.

What does Lear inspire?
In who?
Loyalty in his subjects.
E.G Gloucester, Kent, Cordelia and Edgar (all risk their lives for him).

What is arguably the most famous quote associated with Lear?
‘I am a man more sinned against than sinning.’
Act 3, Scene 2.

What causes him to make a serious mistake in judgement?
Hubris.

What is hubris?
A Greek term referring to excessive and destructive pride.

What did hubris often lead to in ancient Greece?
The death of the tragic, heroic figure.

Does hubris have a similar effect in King Lear?
Yes because Lear allows his excessive pride to destroy his family.

What shocks Lear?
That people don’t obey him as they have previously.
He expects to be obeyed as he attempted to keep the title of king.

How does Lear respond to hi problems?
He ignores them looking to the Fool for distraction.

What does he refuse to face?
Those responsible for insulting and demeaning him (as a king).

How does he deal with problems?
With anger and outbursts of cursing, even a physical attack when provoked.

When is he helpless?
When confronted with insults.

At the mercy of his daughters and her servants, what does he often succumb to?
Despair and self-pity.

What does the once omnipotent king struggle to find?
An effective means of dealing with his loss of power.

What does Lear reveal in his madness?
That he’s frightened and apprehensive for his future.

What does he refuse to do?
Be controlled by another person’s decisions.

Despite the choices he makes being poor or filled with danger, what does he wish to do?
Remain in charge of his destiny.

Why does Lear chose to go out into the storm?
Because he wants to retain some element of control as the alternative is to succumb to his daughters’ control reluctantly but without protest. This is inconsiderable for Lear.

What is a quality associated with Lear?
Stubbornness.

What can he be compared to?
Example?
A willful child.
When he flees into the storm, as a child flees a reality too harsh to accept.

What is he revealed as despite his despair and self-pity?
A complex man whose punishment far exceeds his foolish errors (arguably) and is deserving of the audience’s sympathy.

What does he eventually display?

(4 things).

– Regret.
– Remorse.
– Empathy.
– Compassion for the poor (not previously not recognised by Lear).

What does Lear focus on in his madness?
The parallels he sees to his own life.

What is his pity for the poor reflected by?
The pity he feels for his own situation.

What does Lear being anointed king mean?
That he is God’s representative meaning that he shares the responsibility for dispensing justice on earth.

What does he recognise?
That he bears responsibility for both his own problems and for those of others, who suffer equally.

What was a major step in accepting responsibility and realising that he is not infallible?
His understanding of his complicity in the events that followed the ‘love challenge’.

Define complicity.
The fact or condition of being involved with others in an activity that is unlawful or morally wrong.

What does Lear learn because of his own suffering?
That even he is not above God’s justice.

Quote of Lear’s towards Cordelia in the first act?
‘Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.’ (1.1.89)

Famous quote of Lear’s?
‘Nothing can be made out of nothing.’ (1.3.123)

4 quotes about madness?
– ‘O let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven! Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!’ (1.5.40)
– ‘O Fool, I shall go mad!’ (2.4.281)
– ‘Let me have surgeons: I am cut to th’brains’ (4.6.191/192)
– ‘Pray you now, forget and forgive; I am old and foolish.’ (4.7.84)

Quote when Lear realises his mistake?
‘I gave you all -‘ (2.4. 245)

Quote towards Goneril?
‘I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.’ (2.4.214)

Quote from the storm?
‘Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!’ (3.2.56)

Quote when Lear acknowledges his situation?
‘Here I stand your slave, a poor, infirm, weak and despised old man…’ (3.2. 19)

What is the most famous quote arguably?
‘I am a man more sinned against than sinning.’ (3.2.59)

Quote about fortune?
‘I am even the natural fool of Fortune.’ Act 4, Scene 6.

Quote about him?
‘I am a very foolish fond old man.’ (4.7.60)

Quote when he is realising he’s mad?
‘I fear I am not in my perfect mind.’ (4.7.63)

Quote about Lear and Cordelia when they’ve been captured?
‘He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven and fire us hence like foxes.'(5.3.22)

2 quotes about Cordelia’s death?
– ‘I might have saved her; now she’s gone forever. – Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha?’ (5.3.269)
– ‘Pray you undo this button.’ (5.3.307)
-‘Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life and thou no breath at all?’ (5.3.305)

Quote showing his naivety?
‘I can stay with Regan, I and my hundred knights.’

Quote showing his vindictive nature?
‘I will have such revenges on you both.’

Quote symbolising his affinity with Poor Tom?
‘Is man no more than this?’

Quote showing his naivety?
‘I can stay with Regan, I and my hundred knights.’

Quote showing his vindictive nature?
‘I will have such revenges on you both.’

Quote symbolising his affinity with Poor Tom?
‘Is man no more than this?’

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Hi, I am Sara from Studymoose

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