Lear Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Describe the character of Lear as we first encounter him in the play. How old is he? What is his demeanor?

When Lear first appears on stage, it is as a cruel king bent on building a wall around his kingdom, supposedly to protect his people. His actions, however, soon show his indifference to their lives, as he kills a workman who has accidentally killed another and thus delayed the completion of the wall. He is old--although it is not stated specifically how old--and grows delusional as the play progresses.

2. Compare and contrast the characters of Bodice and Fontanelle. Whom are they related to? How are they similar? How are they different?

Fontanelle is Lear's daughter and Bodice's sister. In the first scene, her objection to her father's killing of a workman makes her seem compassionate, but when she and Bodice lead the rebellion against Lear, it becomes clear that she is Immensely cruel. Although in many ways she is quite similar to her sister, Bodice is the more cold and calculating of the two.

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