Essays on King Lear

The play King Lear was set a little while after the Spanish Armada. The play all starts off in King Lear’s Castle when he decides to retire and split his kingdom. After he divides his kingdom, he goes to Goneril’s castle where he sees Goneril’s true colors she demands half of his knights leave and, at that moment, Lear is so angry that he curses his daughter and storms out to live with Reagan in her castle. Once Lear arrives and tries to convince Regan to let him live with her, and says, “Beloved Regan, Thy sister’s naught: O Regan, she hath tied Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here: points to his heart” (2.4.48) but still Regan insists that Lear go back to live with Goneril because she also thinks that Lear having all his knights is unnecessary and she will not house all of them. Lear then goes out into the storm and refuses to go back in because his daughters have betrayed him.

This all started when King Lear decided that he wanted to step down and retire from being King. He has three daughters Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. Initially, he plans on dividing his kingdom between the three, but something happens. Cordelia is talking to herself and it is almost her turn to tell her father how much she loves him but doesn’t know how to put into words and is both shy and not willing to flatter. 'Then poor Cordelia! And yet not so; since I am sure, my love's More richer than my tongue' (1.1.9). Once it is Cordelia’s turn Lear ask her what she has to say to top her other sisters, but she says nothing. “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty According to my bond; nor more no less” (1.1.9). King Lear angered by her answer gives everything away to Goneril and Regan.

Lear is furious and mentions what has happened to the earl of Kent, a nobleman who served Lear and Gloucester who has two sons Edgar and Edmund. They both feel as though Lear is overreacting, but Lear doesn’t see anything wrong with what he has done. Gloucester's younger son Edmund is ambitious and conniving he will stop at nothing to gain power. “Well, my legitimate, if this is letter speed, And my invention thrive, Edmund the base Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper: Now gods, stand up for bastards' (1.2.16). Edmund is starting his plan to trick his father in to see that he is the legitimate son, not Edgar. Edmund writes the letter and is making it obvious but tries to hide it once it has drawn his father's attention. Gloucester reads the letter aloud and is shocked by what he has read. Reading the letter makes Gloucester enraged he can't believe that Edgar would write such things, so he sends Edmund to go out and find him. Edmund finds his brother and tells him to run and hide from his father because he isn't very happy with him right now. Edgar is confused but still listens to his brother. 'some villain hath done me wrong' (1.2.20). Edgar begins to think someone has set him up but doesn't realize the person who is behind it all is right in front of him. To himself, Edmund say, 'A credulous father! And a brother noble, Whose nature is so far from doing harms, That he suspects none: on whose foolish is honesty My practices ride easy! I see the business. Let me, if not my birth, have lands by wit: All with me’s meet that I can fashion fit” (1.2.20). Edmund has now fooled both his father and brother and they haven’t suspected a thing.

King Lear still furious with both his children standing out in the rain begins to realize that although Cordelia didn't give him the answer, he was looking for she truly loved him. 'Let it be so; thy truth, then, be thy dower' (1.1.10). Lear let his feelings cloud his judgment and now has realized that Cordelia was the only genuine one. Gloucester finally arrives after getting his eyes ripped out by Cornwall. While Edgar is still disguised, he doesn't reveal to his father who he is, but Gloucester talks about how he shouldn't have been so naпve and believed his illegitimate son over Edgar. Gloucester asks Edgar who is in disguise to take him up to the highest hill so that he can jump off. Edgar leads him to a flat surface and tells Gloucester that he is high up because Gloucester can't see it with his own eyes. 'Why I do trifle thus with his despair is done to cure it' (4.6.84). Edgar tells him to jump but only does this so that Gloucester will put past the fact that he can no longer see.

One event that shaped King Lear was Lear diving his kingdom amongst his three daughters. He found out what Goneril and Regan’s true intentions were and turned on his daughter who loved him the most. But later, was joined back together with Cordelia. Another turning point in the play was when Gloucester was blinded to think his son Edgar wanted to kill him but in reality, Edmund just wanted to feel important and take all the power.

Read more
We've found 45 essays on King Lear

Essay examples

Essay topics


King Lear Albany| The Ultimate Shapeshifter

We’ve all seen shapeshifters through different storylines, some of them important, and some not. They may start off as evil, vile characters that we all dislike but love in the end, or a lovable character that twists from favorable to malicious with a snap. The …

King Lear
Words 746
Pages 3
King Lear: A Tragic Hero

King Lear: A Tragic Hero King Lear by William Shakespeare Is an example of a classic tragedy. The mall character, King Lear, Is the tragic hero, which Is one of the aspects of a tragedy. King Lear wrongfully judges his daughters when he asks them …

King LearLoveTragedyTragic Hero
Words 1011
Pages 5
Analysis Of King Lear And The Tempest

Although a similar vision of justice is encompassed within King Lear and The Tempest, both protagonists receive fate strikingly dissimilar from one another; as a direct result of the relationship shared between their respective daughters, which ultimately distinguishes the plays from the similar concepts (compassion, …

CompassionKing LearRevengeTragedy
Words 1789
Pages 8
Haven’t found the relevant content? Hire a subject expert to help you with
Essays on King Lear
$35.80 for a 2-page paper
get custom paper
King Lear and Little Boy Crying

Research and provide examples of the following literary terms: 1 . Simile- A simile is a direct comparison that always contains word as or like. Examples: He is as wealthy as 3111 Gate. Her personality Is like a bubble In a bottle to champagne. 2. …

BoyKing Lear
Words 2069
Pages 9
Change King Lear

Why is change inevitable? Why is it feared by many but then embraced with open arms by others? Change is the cause to be different, the process or result of altering. And although changes may be difficult and problematic, they often DO bring rewards to …

King LearTragedy
Words 1547
Pages 7
King Lear – Tragic Flaw

“Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them… great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well …

King LearTragedy
Words 888
Pages 4
King Lear Parallelism Essay

Parallelism Between Families Tragedy is defined by a series of unfortunate events that occurs to someone who does not deserve them. When a protagonist makes mistakes, sometimes other characters take the repercussions. Set in a time of royalty and ranks, King Lear describes parallel events …

King LearTragedy
Words 289
Pages 2
King Lear Imagery

The seemingly loving and honest sisters, Generic and Reagan, and Starr son, Edmund, are In reality; evil, uncaring, deceitful beings, and clothing that symbolizes who a person Is, Is simply only an Illusion. Early on in the play, Learns two daughters, Generic and Reagan, appear …

ImageryKing LearTragedy
Words 1168
Pages 5
Morally chaotic world In King Lear

Shakespeare presents a variety of ways in which moral chaos is brought about, including the disruption of the natural order and the characters possession of typically corrupted morals, even going as far as questioning the morals of his own society. However, having different principles in …

King LearMoralityVirtue
Words 1390
Pages 6
King Lear – Jealousy Between Goneril and Regan

In terms of power, Lear becomes the complete opposite of what he is in Act One by the end of Act Two. The fool says, “Now thou art an O without/ a figure. I am better than thou art now: I am a Fool, thou/ …

King Lear
Words 502
Pages 3
Lear and the Fool

1. How does William Shakespeare use changes in the Fool’s dialogue to mirror changes in Lear’s own perspective? Choose quotes from the sheet that support your argument. 2. How does William Shakespeare use the Fool to reflect Lear’s own thoughts and fears? Use a quote …

King LearTragedyWilliam Shakespeare
Words 328
Pages 2
King Lear Loyalty

Eastern and Western Perspectives on Loyalty Loyalty is a strong feeling of support and allegiance in which it is reflected upon two proclaimed movies with different setting and subplots, but possesses a similar understanding to what the writer was trying to convey. By watching Olivier’s …

King Lear
Words 1374
Pages 6
Unfinished King Lear

The play King Lear examines the concept of appearance and reality. The issues of madness and blindness become powerful symbols reinforcing this central concept. The two universal themes, madness and blindness relate to our modern life because in our everyday life we go through this …

King LearLove
Words 1048
Pages 5
Creative Critical Response to King Lear

Creative Critical Response King Lear- 2011 Production- Lyceum Theatre As the lights of the theatre dimmed and the stage was lit up, a roar of applause broke out over the audience. The stage production of Shakespeare’s King Lear has been long awaited by many critics …

King Lear
Words 497
Pages 2
What Are the Most Important Themes in King Lear?

“Different interpretations focus on different themes’, this statement is acceptable in the play King Lear. Edwin Sherin’s production of King Lear primarily explores the theme of Oder and Chaos, as opposed to excerpts by Marilyn Gaull, which focuses on the theme of Love evident in …

King Lear
Words 1193
Pages 5
The Tragic Hero in King Lear by Shakespeare

Tragedy is defined in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary as 1) a medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man or 2) a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force, such as destiny, and having …

DramaFictionKing LearTragedyTragic Hero
Words 887
Pages 4
Authority in King Lear

Kayla Jacklin Dr. Treschow English 153 25 March 2013 Power Corrupts a Happily Ever After The theme of authority is prominent in William Shakespeare’s play King Lear. The play has many situations that allow readers to observe the negative effects that ones authority can have, …

King Lear
Words 1961
Pages 8
King Lear Abuses His Highest Position as King

Lear is responsible for his downfall in a countless amount of ways each one leading on from the next. He abuses his superior position as king and yet still demands respect and authority of which he strongly believes he deserves. Lear longs for his daughter’s …

King Lear
Words 460
Pages 2
King Lear and a Thousand Acres

King Lear and A thousand acres comparison The one social issue that hasn’t evolved since the 17th century is the ever present schisms between families. People have always cheated, parents have always chosen favorites, and the struggles for wealth and power have always torn families …

King Lear
Words 2676
Pages 11
Destruction of the Old Order in King Lear Act I

In the first act of King Lear Shakespeare turns the order of world of the play upside down. By the end of the first act virtually every character’s station in life has been changed significantly. Lear has given away his power, he has destroyed his …

ActsKing Lear
Words 959
Pages 4
Is King Lear Nihilistic or Hopeful?

Is King Lear nihilistic or hopeful? Satisfying, hopeful, and redemptive: some critics would say that these adjectives belong nowhere near a description of King Lear. One critic, Thomas Roche, even states that the play’s ending is “as bleak and unrewarding as man can reach outside …

IagoKing LearOthello
Words 3381
Pages 14
Foolishness in Shakepeare’s King Lear

King Lear is considered to be Shakespeare’s best artistic work. Early on, the readers glean the foolishness of the king as he bequeaths his riches and his kingdom to his deceitful daughters. This is his desperate attempt to know who loves him. Thus, we see …

FoolishnessGreedKing Lear
Words 987
Pages 4
The King’s Storm- A Point of No Return

Shakespeare’s King Lear examines the politics of betrayal and the awful costs paid by its victims.  Nowhere in the play are these costs more apparent than in those scenes in which Lear and his exiled companions find themselves caught in the midst of a thunderstorm …

HellKing LearPhilosophy
Words 1372
Pages 6
King Lear – Denial, Rage, and Isolation

Throughout Shakespeare’s play, King Lear, the audience is subject to differing emotions and sentiments for the main character. The changes in King Lear’s demeanor, state of mind and even beliefs throughout the play are constantly changing and subject to so many different factors that the …

King Lear
Words 1017
Pages 5
Essay Summary of King Lear

The selected passage is from Act IV, Scene VII, from one of the most historical and critically acclaimed plays of William Shakespeare. It is generally agreed today to be Shakespeare’s greatest play by the learned as well as the public (Hunter, p. 1). It has …

King LearLove
Words 1302
Pages 6
Informative Essay on King Lear

In Shakespeare’s King Lear there is a definite element of the grotesque as seen in Lear’s own personality, and the other main characters in how they treat Lear.  Thus the grotesque in Shakespeare’s play is manifested through power.  The grotesque theme of Shakespeare’s play will …

King Lear
Words 1413
Pages 6
King Lear: Plot Overview

The tragedy ‘King Lear’ by William Shakespeare, although written about quite remote epoch and unusual (in terms of our contemporary world) settings, raises vital philosophical, social and psychological themes, which are unlikely to become outdated. The most abstractive philosophical issue, described in ‘King Lear’ is …

King LearPlotTragedy
Words 951
Pages 4
King Lear Act 3 Questions

King Lear Act III Study Questions Scene I 1. Kent reveals to the Gentlemen that tension between Regan’s husband (Albany) and Goneril’s husband (Cornwall) could quite possible result in a civil war. However, aside from the war, the two may be united in plotting against …

ActsKing Lear
Words 2230
Pages 9
King Lear Imagery Seminar

Symbolism/Imagery/Allegory in King Lear * The Storm (Imagery)Pathetic Fallacy: By acting irresponsibility, Lear as a King and then as a father causes a universal upheaval in the order of the universe. This upheaval is reflected and reinforced by the use of imagery (Pathetic Fallacy). The …

ImageryKing Lear
Words 1626
Pages 7
King Lear/Inferno

Paper Assignment #2 (Inferno / King Lear) Both Shakespeare’s King Lear and Dante’s Inferno explore the reasons for and results of human suffering. Both works postulate that human suffering comes as a result of choices that are made. That statement is not only applicable to …

Dante InfernoHellKing Lear
Words 1266
Pages 6

Find extra essay topics on Essays on King Lear by our writers.

King Lear is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. It is based on the mythological Leir of Britain. King Lear relinquishes his power and land to two of his daughters. He becomes destitute and insane and a proscribed crux of political machinations.
Originally published



Leir of Britain, Cordelia, Goneril, Edmund, Regan, Earl of Gloucester, Fool, Earl of Kent, Curan


What is the main theme of King Lear?
King Lear has a lot to say about the relation between appearance and reality. Lear doesn't care as much about the substance of his girls' love when they call them to publically confess their love for him.
What is the main plot of King Lear?
King Lear splits his kingdom among two of his daughters who flatter and banishes him from the third. The two oldest daughters, Lear and his wife, reject him at home. Lear then wanders aimlessly through the stormy night.
What is the moral of King Lear?
King Lear is a moral that says actions speak louder and more than words. It is easy for someone to say one thing and do the opposite.
How is King Lear a tragedy?
King Lear has a noble-born main character, but he makes a fatal wrong turn that causes extensive suffering and ultimately leads to the death and dismemberment of himself and others.

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire writer