King Lear is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, but it is also a carefully constructed arrangement of deliberately contrasting characters and human qualities; these contrasting elements make the tragic outcomes inevitable and heighten the emotional involvement of the reader, or playgoer, in what might otherwise be seen as a story that depends upon coincidence and misunderstandings to the point where credibility could be undermined.
The most obvious contrasts in moral character are among the younger people of the play. Cordelia, in her true love for her father, which...
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