Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Lear, the king of England, now in his old age. Lear’s enterprise to protect his lands from attack by the dukes of North and Cornwall is near completion. By constructing a wall around his kingdom, Lear is shown as a strong and politically effective leader. His failure, however, is that in keeping enemies out, Lear also traps within the country various internal destructive forces. Consequently, civil war breaks out, and Lear is driven from his own kingdom. Wandering in the wilderness, he returns to an almost childlike state, shrugging off responsibility for the society he created. Captured by the new government, Lear begins to learn, for the first time, the kind of king and father he has been. Strict and authoritarian, but with the best of intentions, Lear has been overprotective, suffocating his daughters’ individuality and causing them to respond viciously to the world. Now, as their prisoner, Lear is made “politically ineffective” by the removal of his eyes. Lear’s blinding symbolically begins his growth in understanding, and he begins to see that the only way forward is a peaceful one. Lear is shot attempting to destroy the wall, which represents the severe and annihilating man Lear was as both a parent and a king.


Bodice, Lear’s daughter. Ambitious, intelligent, organized, and dangerous, Bodice, like her sister, craves political power. Unlike Fontanelle, however, Bodice is not easily fooled. She marries North expecting nothing and so is not surprised at discovering that her husband’s bravery is far from genuine. Having taken joint control of the country, she discovers the limitations of power and fails to achieve the success and fulfillment she desires. Bodice emerges as an isolated and lonely woman.


Fontanelle, Lear’s daughter. Fontanelle’s psychological scars, caused by a...

(The entire section is 776 words.)