King Lear Character Development

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In this essay I want to show that in the first act of King Lear it was already hinted at some points of the development that the characters of King Lear and the Earl of Gloucester go through.

The character Lear shows signs that he is becoming mad while it begins to affect his life and those of the other characters in the play . In the beginning of the Play King Lear decides to divide his Kingdom into three parts and split it among his three daughters with the goal to prevent future conflicts and to rid him of the burden of ruling. However he decides that the Kingdom should be split according to how much his daughters love him and not by who is the best ruler “Which of you shall we say doth love us most, / that we our largest bounty may extend
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Edmund plots against his legitimate brother Edgar and wants to get what is his “Edmund the base/ Shall top the legitimate. I grow, I prosper:/ Now gods, stand up for bastards” (Shakespeare 1.2.20-23) Another thing that should make Gloucester suspicious towards Edmund is that he planned to send him away again “He hath been out nine years and away he shall again” Although Gloucester should be aware of the envy that Edmund feels towards his brother Edgar and the hatred that he might feel towards Gloucester himself he doesn’t see these feelings as a possibility and trusts Edmund when he presents the letter which he claims is from Edgar and in which he supposedly conspires against his own father. This is a foreshadowing about the physical blindness that shall befall Gloucester later in the Play, because he couldn’t tell which of his sons he could trust and because he was blind towards the greed and envy of Edmund. This decision, which Gloucester made because he is too trusting towards people, shaped the way that things developed for him further on in the play, which nearly drove him to suicide from which he could only be saved by Edgar.

These two characters show that their different character traits that are shown throughout the first act are a foreshadowing for later developments that concern their character and shape them towards the end. Lear as well as Gloucester gets saved by his child which they cast aside earlier in the play because of a fault in their character and which was the cause of their suffering in the first place over the course of the
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