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The Impact of Anger on Characters in King Lear

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“If someone makes you angry, they’re conquered you.” This quote shows that people shouldn’t get upset so quick because it takes power away from them. Being angry because of the actions of another person shows that the individual provoking one has control over the hurt party. Therefore, it is important to avoid being angry as a way of saving one’s power. This quote is shown in King Lear as demonstrated by various characters, including the King, Gloucester, and Goneril. The anger that these people show has overthrown them as they made immature decisions that ended in the villains winning over them.

King Lear lets his anger overcome him in several ways. In fact, his two daughters succeed in their evil plans. The king did not use an appropriate approach when making the decision to divide his kingdom among his daughters. Therefore, his first two daughters took advantage of the situation to betray him. The fact that Cordelia did not express her love for her father the way that he expected resulted in his anger and hasty decision. He retorts, “How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little, lest it mar your fortunes”. Here, the King’s anger is increasing due to the lack of satisfaction in the answers offered by his youngest daughter. Even though his friend the Earl of Kent tries to convince him not to take a harsh punishment against Cordelia, Lear’s wrath gets the best of him, and he banishes him. The King exclaims, “Thy banish’d trunk be found in our dominions, the moment is thy death”. By exiling the Earl and denying his favorite daughter her share of the kingdom, the king becomes exposed to the evil plot of his two daughters.

The Earl of Gloucester also lets anger conquer him when Edmund shows him a forged letter indicating that his other son, Edgar, wishes him and his brother had control of his father’s wealth. In Act 2, Gloucester asks, “Now, Edmund, where is the villain?”. This quote indicates the Earl’s shock with Edgar even though Edmund is responsible for betraying his father. Therefore, Gloucester goes after his son as he believes that Edgar wishes to hurt him. “Let him fly far! Not in this land shall he remain uncaught”. The outrage showed by the Earl is a clear explanation that he acted before investigating the matter to establish the truth. In fact, Edmund, was able to gain from Gloucester’s anger when the Earl forced his legitimate son to flee.

Goneril is another character who allows anger to conquer her, especially over her sister’s love for Edmund, also, the man that she adores. It is noticeable that jealousy flickers her outrage. In Act 5, Goneril explains, “I had rather lose the battle than that sister should loosen him and me”. The implication is that she was willing to do anything to keep her relationship with Edmund rather than allow Regan to be with him. Goneril poisoned Regan to ensure that she did not become Edmund’s wife. In the final scene, Edmund explains, “Yet Edmund was beloved, the one the other poisoned for my sake”. Goneril’s jealousy and anger led her to kill her sister, but in the end, she lost as well because she had taken her own life.

It is a fact that some of the characters in the play make terrible decisions out of anger, which benefits other people with better plans. The conclusion is that hate is a negative emotion as it makes it almost impossible to make sound decisions concerning important matters. Characters such as King Lear, Gloucester, and Goneril are among the individuals who made bad decisions because of their outrage.

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The Impact of Anger on Characters in King Lear. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
“The Impact of Anger on Characters in King Lear.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
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