Earl of Kent in Shakespeare's King Lear: Traits & Analysis

Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

The Earl of Kent is one of the protagonists in the play 'King Lear' by William Shakespeare. Kent remains loyal to the King despite his negative treatment of him. Learn more about the Earl of Kent and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Introduction

Earl of Kent (known throughout the play as Kent) was King Lear's servant in the play King Lear by William Shakespeare. Kent was a protagonist, one of the main characters, in the story and served the role of Earl (count) to King Lear; he was also one of King Lear's most trusted friends. There are a number of ways to characterize Kent. He was loyal to the king but also clever, brave, and always open about his feelings.

Character Analysis

When King Lear grew old, he wanted to spend the remainder of his life with his three daughters, two of whom were married. He wanted to see how much his daughters loved him to determine how he would divide his kingdom after he died. His daughter Goneril, who was evil and did not love her father, told him she loved him more than she could say. His daughter Regan said she loved him more than her sister Goneril. His youngest daughter, Cordelia, said she loved him according to her 'duty - no more, no less.' She knew her sisters were lying about their love for their father. She was telling her father she loved him just as much as he loved her.

The king loved Cordelia the most and was not happy with her answer so he banished her from his kingdom and his heart. Kent was clever, brave, and open about his feelings, which sometimes got him in trouble. He spoke his mind to King Lear despite the repercussions. When King Lear banished his daughter Cordelia for not properly expressing her love to him, Kent spoke up for her and encouraged the king not to mistreat Cordelia; he said, 'See better, Lear; and let me still remain, the true blank of thine eye.' No matter what the subject matter, he spoke openly about what he felt was right and what he felt was wrong. He also told King Lear that Goneril and Regan did not care about his best interests and told other characters how he felt about them as well.

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