King Lear — Sympathetic Characters Essay
A sympathetic character, is a character that the writer expects the reader (in this case watcher) to identify with and care about. In Shakespeare’s play King Lear, the characters Gloucester and King Lear both start out not being liked by the reader because they come off as mean and cold.
By the end of the play, the reader does sympathize for both of these characters because of how they have been betrayed by their children. Both King Lear and Gloucester turn out to be prime examples of a sympathetic character by the end of the play.King Lear first appears in the play while he is splitting up his kingdom between his three daughters, he ends up not giving any of his kingdom to Cordelia because she wouldn’t lie to him and tell him that she loves him more than anything “I love your majesty according to my bond, no more nor less. “(1. 1.
92-93). Goneril and Regan (Lear’s other ‘bad’ daughters) get all of the kingdom because they tell him that they love him more than anything else in the world. “Hence, and avoid my sight!So be my grave peace as here I give her father’s heart from her. “(1. 1. 127). King Lear is overly mad at Cordelia at the beginning of the play and banishes her from his kingdom because she did not treat him to the standard that he expected for a king. At this point in the play we do not feel sorry for him because he is being unreasonable.
After King Lear splits up his kingdom between Goneril and Regan, he decides that he will spend his time living in between Goneril and Regans houses, this is when the readers feelings about Lear start to change.Lear realizes that his daughters do not really love him, Regan and Goneril dismiss his solders, don’t treat him with respect as a king or father, and Goneril’s servant Oswald does not treat him with the respect a king deserves. “Put on what weary negligence you please, you and your fellow servants. ” (1. 3. 12-13). His daughters then send him out into a storm, where he quickly descends into madness.
Lear soon finds himself out in a hut with his fool and poor beggar Tom. At this point in the play, the reader feels sorry for King Lear because he has been betrayed by his daughters that he has given everything to.Even though early in the play the reader doesn’t have any sympathy for Lear, in the end, he is a perfect example of a sympathetic character because he was only trying to give the best to his daughters, and they just betrayed him and didn’t give him any respect as a king, or even as a father. The Earl of Gloucester is a character, that like Lear, his children betray him and this causes the reader to feel sympathetic for him. Gloucester has two sons, Edgar is his oldest son, and Edmund is Gloucester’s illegitimate son who resents Gloucester for treating him differently and being ashamed of him because he’s a bastard.Out of his anger towards Gloucester, Edmund creates a plot to get rid of Gloucester and Edmund so that he can inherit Gloucester’s money and title.
This is the point in the play where the reader starts to feel sorry for Gloucester. Edmund rats out Gloucester to Cornwall when Gloucester decides to side with Lear (treason to Goneril and Regan) this causes Edmund to be titled the Earl of Gloucester and he inherits his father’s land and money. Gloucester is then arrested for treason and has his eyes gouged out, he is also told that Edmund hates him and that he has been tricked. O my follies! Then Edgar was abused. Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him! ” (3. 7.
91-92). Gloucester is then sent away and he wants to go to the cliffs of Dover to commit suicide. The reader feels sorry for Gloucester because he has been betrayed by his child, and is now wants to kill himself because of it.
In the play King Lear, the two characters Gloucester and King Lear, both run on very parallel paths. the turning point in the play where the reader starts to feel sorry for them is as soon as things start to go bad for them.Early in the play, Lear makes bad decisions on which daughters to give his land and power to, while Gloucester is making Edmund feel bad for being a bastard. Their decisions blow up in their faces and the reader starts to feel bad for them. King Lear is driven to madness and Gloucester has his eyes gouged out and want to kill himself.
The impressions on both of these characters change throughout the course of the play in the same way. Gloucester and King Lear’s fate run parallel because they both misjudge which of their children to trust, and they both suffer from their mistakes.They are both sympathetic characters because by the end of the play you feel sorry for them and what they have to go through, even though they initially made mistakes. These characters show that even if a character starts out seeming mean, impulsive and angry, the reader can still come away feeling bad for them because of what happens from their decisions. King Lear and The Earl of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s play King Lear are perfect examples of sympathetic characters.
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