Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Earl of Kent represents, among other things, the older generation which is being relentlessly replaced by a young generation with less respect for tradition. Kent adheres to the feudal system under which a vassal is obliged to be obedient and loyal to his lord and master, in Kent's case King Lear himself. As a character in the play, Kent serves to advance the plot by helping Lear in every possible way. His loyalty and devotion serve as a contrast to the disloyalty and treachery of others, including Goneril, Regan, Oswald, Edmund, and the Duke of Cornwall. The Duke of Gloucester also represents the older generation and the old feudal order. He is blinded by Regan and her husband Cornwall for attempting to assist King Lear. Kent is unselfish because he places duty above his personal welfare.