King Lear Sample Answers & Notes: Villainous and Virtuous Characters; Lear Story Mirrors Gloucester; Horrifying and Uplifting Experience

The 2010 Leaving Cert Higher Level English Paper II Section I Question C (ii) asked:

"In King Lear the villainous characters hold more fascination for the audience than the virtuous ones." Discuss this statement with reference to at least one villainous and one virtuous character. Support your answer with suitable reference to the text.

Virgin Mary and Jesus. King Lear and Cordelia
Shakespeare’s King Lear explores a variety of complex characters. The only truly virtuous character is Edgar, whose empathy and unyielding determination would impress any reader. Cordelia, Gloucester, Kent, Albany and Lear are all virtuous to varying extents. Regan, Goneril, Cornwall and Edmund appear purely evil at first. On closer examination, however, they are realistic characters in tragic circumstances that facilitate the delivery of Shakespeare’s message. The reader is fascinated at the development of these characters and haunted by their striking images.

For unseen A1 sample answers to three past paper questions on King Lear as well as a comprehensive overview of how to approach this and any other such essay, check out our brand new download.  It includes the above full essay and these two:


Essay II: 2006/English/Higher Level/Paper II/Section I/Question E (i)

"In the play, King Lear, the stories of Lear and Gloucester mirror one another in interesting ways." Write a response to this view of the play, supporting your answer by reference to the text.

Essay III: 2006/English/Higher Level/Paper II/Section I/Question E (ii)

"Reading or seeing King Lear is a horrifying as well as an uplifting experience." Write a response to this view, supporting the points you make by reference to the text.

Essay IV: sample

‘King Lear is not only a tragedy of parents and children, of pride and ingratitude, it is also a tragedy of kingship.’ Discuss with reference to power relations in King Lear.

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These notes are also contained within our Complete Guide: A1 Leaving Cert English Notes and Sample Answers 2018

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Leaving Cert English Sample Essay and Notes



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