King Lear King of Britain. Lear is the protagonist whose willingness to believe empty flattery leads to the deaths of many people.
Goneril Lear's eldest daughter who, after professing her deep love for her father, betrays him and plots his murder.
Regan Lear's second daughter. Regan joins forces with Goneril to destroy their father. Regan initially appears less harsh than her elder sister, but in the end, she proves to be as blood-thirsty as Goneril.
Cordelia Lear's youngest daughter. Cordelia genuinely loves her father, but her refusal to flatter him leads to her tragic death.
Fool Loyal member of the king's court. The Fool assumes the role of protector to Lear when Cordelia is banished.
Earl of Gloucester Lear's cohort and loyal friend. Gloucester is a foolish old man whose inability to see the truth in his youngest son's words parallels Lear's own difficulties with Goneril and Regan.
Earl of Kent / Caius Lear's loyal friend and supporter. Although banished, Kent disguises himself as Caius in an effort to stay close to his king.
Edgar / Poor Tom Gloucester's older son. Edgar is Gloucester's only legitimate heir, but he must flee and hide from his father, disguised as Poor Tom, when he comes under suspicion.
Edmund Gloucester's younger, illegitimate, son. He is an opportunist whose ambitions lead him to form a union with Goneril and Regan.
Duke of Albany Goneril's husband. Albany grows in stature during the play and ultimately finds the strength to resist his wife's efforts to have Lear killed.
Duke of Cornwall Regan's brutal husband. Cornwall is vicious and savage as he tries to eliminate Lear and Gloucester.
Oswald Goneril's steward. Oswald is a willing accomplice to Goneril's plotting and proves a foil to Kent's devotion to Lear.
King of France Marries Cordelia. France is honorable and willing to support Cordelia's efforts to rescue her father.
Duke of Burgundy Suitor for Cordelia. Burgundy rejects Cordelia when he discovers that she will bring him no dowry.
Curan Gloucester's servant.
Old Man Tenant of Gloucester.
Servants to Cornwall Cornwall's retainers, who attack him in defense of Gloucester.
Doctor Attendant to Cordelia.