Lear's Family and Associates
Cordelia - Although she appears very little during the play, Cordelia plays an important role. Her refusal to lie to her father leads to her banishment and the ensuing tragedy. Despite her virtue, one could argue that Cordelia's refusal to flatter the king does a great amount of harm. Would not the ends have justified the means, especially when considering the apparent mental illness of her father?
Goneril - Goneril, the wife of Albany and oldest daughter of Lear, flatters the king, seeks an adulterous affair with Edmund, and wrests control of her husband's army. Goneril plots for power immediately after Lear grants her half the kingdom.
Regan - Regan, the wife of Cornwall and middle daughter of Lear, isn't much better than her older sister. Her calling for the removal of Gloucester's other eye as he's being tortured sums up her character.
Kent - Kent defends Cordelia and is henceforth banished from the King's presence. He remains loyal, however, and, in disguise, follows the king and serves him. The fact that the king does not recognize Kent in disguise lends credence to the insanity theory. Despite his willingness to serve and help the king, Kent displays many of the traits that lead to Lear's downfall, including anger and hot headedness.
The Fool - The role of the fool in King Lear includes the following: (1) The fool adds humor to an otherwise depressing drama; (2) The fool provides sage advice in the form of puns and double meanings, often insulting the king.