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Elements of Good and Evil in King Lear

King Lear is one of the famous plays of Shakespeare. Its development of the plot, the mood and the character of Lear through the play made the audiences enjoy the play. The play cannot be successful without the contribution of the secondary characters. By looking at the development of the plot, the mood and the changes in the character of Lear, it is obvious that Kent, the Fool and Cornwall play the important role in King Lear.

First, Kent, the Fool, and Cornwall are important to the development of the plots of King Lear. Kent and the Fool are the great advisers on Lear’s side, but Cornwall is the evil throughout the play. Kent is the consistent characters that help Lear whether Lear is in power or powerless, mad and died, which he shows persistent loyalty to Lear throughout the play. The fool is playing with his coxcomb and offers it to Lear and Kent. He states Lear as a fool after the love test and division of the Kingdom. When Lear is mad, the Fool is beside Lear and comforts him, and tries to persuade Lear to go indoor, “O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rain-water out o’ door.” (Acts three, scene two, line ten.)

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The Fool disappears after Act three because Lear has reached the bottom of his suffering, which the Fool cannot do anything about it. Cornwall is a duke in England and a husband of Regan. He gives himself up completely to corruption and courtly intrigue. He publishes the messenger, Kent, because of a servant conflict when he sees Lear is no longer in power. He insults Kent for the purpose of showing Lear that Lear is no longer in power like in the past that people will not respect him like before. When Cornwall knows from Edmund that Gloucester hold a letter and he helps the king, Cornwall is so angry because he feels Gloucester betray him. Cornwall arrests Gloucester and he decides to torture Gloucester instead of hanging him. “Plunk out his eyes” (Act three, Scene seven, Line five.) He decides to torture Gloucester to show that this is the result of helping Lear, and he feels Gloucester is the biggest power in England that would help Lear.

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Next, Kent, the fool and Cornwall are also important to the development of the mood through “King Lear”. Kent first gives Lear a strong declaration that the decision to divide the kingdom that Lear made is a mistake; it gives the audiences the feeling that he is stronger than the king. “My life I never held but as a pawn. To wage against thy enemies; nor fear to lost it, Thy safety being the motive.” (Act one, Scene one, 175.) The Fool provides audiences a relax mood because he talks funny but his words are full of meaning of advising Lear. ” All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.” (Act one, Scene four; line one hundred and fifty-four.) The Fool is trying to tell Lear that it is wrong to divide his power. Cornwall gives readers an evil mood when he trusts Edmund and let him be part of his family. The mood goes eviler when he tortures Gloucester for betraying them. “Leave him to my displeasure.” (Acts three, Scene seven, line six).

Lastly, Kent, the Fool and Cornwall are the important factors of the changes in the character of Lear. Kent and the Fool are the advisers of Lear in the play that they both give advice to the king throughout the play. Lear does not consider advises that given by Kent because he is angry and he loses control of his mind. Lear does not even try to take time to think of advice from Kent. Later on in the play, the three daughters of Lear prove to advise Kent and Lear senses his daughters are not respectful to him. Lear turns mad and loses control of their mind and he runs into the storm. ” Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain! Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters.”(Acts three, Scene two, line fourteen) Lear yells to the sky, which shows that he is really mad and he finds out the reality. When he meets his youngest daughter, Cordelia, he shows more understanding for truth. ” I am a very foolish fond old man”(Act four, Scene seven, line sixty-nine.) This shows that Lear sense he made mistake and he cannot face Cordelia. Cornwall helps the development of the change of the character of Lear by standing on Regan’s side. This helps Lear to see the true heart of his daughter more clearly.

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The tragedy of King Lear is dividing into the hero and evil side, Kent and the Fool are on the hero side and Cornwall is the evil side. They are the important elements in the play; they make a great contribution to the development of the plot, mood, and Lear’s character. There would not be the play, King Lear, without any of these characters.

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Elements of Good and Evil in King Lear. (2021, Mar 05). Retrieved March 24, 2023, from