In King Lear, sketch the character of Kent. How is he similar to Lear?
As the drama opens, Kent is not very similar to Lear. He serves Lear, but does so with an honesty and openness that Lear has shown unable to acknowledge. For example in the opening scene, Kent speaks of the selflessness with which he associates in his own service to Lear:
My life I never held but as a pawn
To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it,
Thy safety being the motive.
In the emotional setting of the First Scene of the First Act, such honesty is distinctive. It is not a condition that Lear is able to understand or recognize because of where he is in terms of his identity and sense of self. Kent is very open about his own sense of loyalty and honor throughout the drama. This is seen in how he does not recoil and retreat from Lear even when he is banished. Rather, he serves Lear in disguise as Caius, someone who appears to be of lower distinction. Lear operates in a world of moral and emotional disguise, as he fails to see that which is true. Kent, however, takes a disguise in order to carry out what he sees as his duty and obligation. In this, one notices how divergent Lear and Kent at the exposition of the drama.
Where Lear and Kent find similarity exists in how Lear moves towards the reality of truth and moral honesty. For Lear, this process takes time, but when he achieves it, the language and images Shakespeare has him employ in his speech is strikingly similar to Kent. For example, in Act V, scene 3, Lear speaks to Cordelia with the type of language that reflects devotion and a sense of commitment:
No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison.We two alone will sing like birds i' th' cage.When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel downAnd ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laughAt gilded butterflies, and hear poor roguesTalk of court news,
Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers-