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King Lear Character Development • Lear begins as the most powerful character, whom everyone tries to please and obey. However when it comes to the contest it becomes clear who acts this way due to love of Lear, and due to self gain. Lear is unable to distinguish between the two. It is the characteristics shown here, that he is unable to see the truth in people (blind) and that all Lear is concerned about is his own passions and affections. • After giving up his power Lear does not change and adapt to his new situation. Because of his presumptions that he has earned the right to be treated as a monarch even after he has relinquished his throne, Lear becomes enraged when he does not receive the attention and rights he had as a king. • When Lear is cast out, the illusion that his daughters (excluding Cordelia) love him is shattered, and he slowly begins to see the faults in his decisions; ‘Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er's you are,[…] I have ta’en / too little care of this.’ Relationships • Fool - His conscience, the only character allowed to tell the truth to Lear, ‘all-licens'd fool’, however he is often ignored. They have a very close relationship, ‘nuncle’, however it is still unequal in terms of power. • Cordelia - He wrongly denounces her for telling the truth, this shows how he is vein and has a quick irrational temper. He weeps over her death at the end, when they are reconciled and Lear has seen the error of his ways. She loves him steadily throughout. This relationship shows how far Lear is from acting with ‘right mind’, Cordelia symbolises goodness and order, so when Lear denounces her he is denouncing the same, and when he weeps for her at the end he is close to it. • Regan and Goneril - He is pleased with them while they are lying to him about how much they love him, however when they do not provide Lear with the courtesy to which he is accustomed Lear becomes very angry. Eventually Lear realises that through his behaviour he has removed the small amount of love they originally had for him. Lear influences these daughters, becoming their role model, allowing them to think that acting pettily, in anger or to sate your own greed with no thought for others is acceptable. ‘Prescribe not us our duties’ is the reply when Cordelia attempts to remind them to be kind to Lear.
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