The Importance of the Earl of Kent in King Lear The Earl of Kent plays a small but important part in Shakespeare’s play King Lear. From the beginning scenes to the end we see a minor character that is used to show the values that Shakespeare believed in. Whether Kent is an example of the dutiful servant or plays the intermediary between Lear and Cordelia he is essential to the functioning of the plot.
The role of Kent is important because of the use Shakespeare has for his character in giving the reader an example of what the values are in the play. In Kent the reader sees a man who is loyal to his King but is not blind to the wrong that this King has committed Kent is also able to defend his King even though he has been banished by him. Kent is an example of a dutiful servant and a symbol of reason.
The reader discovers Kent’s willingness to protect his King in the first scene. After Lear has had his daughter’s display their love in a pubic competition Kent tries to persuade him that Cordelia “does not love him least” and that Lear should think about banishing her. Kent is trying to protect the King from his emotions and the decision that they have led him to. But Lear does not listen and instead banishes Kent from the Kingdom. His banishment is a result of another emotional outburst on the part of the King. If Lear were to look rationally at his actions and what his daughters have said he would realize his folly. Instead he is enraged by Kent and thinks that he is challenging his authority.
Even after he has been banished Kent goes back to protect Lear. He sees that the King is headed for trouble. He has let his emotions guide his actions. He has abandoned reason, and Kent is present as a reas…
… example of what is right and to show how powerful duty is. Without Kent the play would take a completely different course. He is able to connect the King’s madness with the loss of reason that Lear displays in the first scene. Kent is a representative of Lear before he lost his power.
The actions of Kent are connected to the main plot of the play. He is present in almost all of the scenes in which Lear shows his descent from power into madness. The reader is able to make connections in the plot because of the presence of Kent. The reader also sees the strong moral messages of the plot through the character of Kent. Kent is the embodiment of honor and duty. These themes are needed in order to keep the story complete.
Works Cited and Consulted
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of King Lear. Ed. Russell Fraser. New York: Penguin, 1998.