Thursday, February 7, 2013

Earl of Kent in King Lear

The Earl of Kent (or we can simply call him ‘Kent’) was one of the protagonists in King Lear with a good sense from the beginning. As an Earl, Kent served King Lear; he has become one of his trusted friends. Kent was clever and brave. When King Lear has emotionally banished his daughter Cordelia because she could not express her love to her father properly, Kent openly confronted his King to reconsider his decision. King Lear was enraged by this and banished Kent as well.

Kent was also the most loyal servant of King Lear. Despite of being unfairly banished from the Kingdom for criticizing his master, Kent never hated him and never stopped serving him. He was willingly to put a disguise as a poor peasant and humbly asked King Lear to be his servant. When King Lear was being kicked by his daughters; poor and homeless, Kent followed him and protecting him anywhere the King went. The ending was rather absurd, perhaps, for modern people; when Duke of Albany offered Kent and Edgar to rule the Kingdom, Kent refused it by saying:

I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
My master calls me, I must not say no.”

Kent (right) was banished by King Lear (left)
from: The Tragedy of King Lear - 2002
presented by: The ActorsNet of Bucks County

Considering that Kent’s sole master was King Lear, and King Lear—at the time he said it—was just dead, we can only assume that Kent’s journey was a journey to the death, where he believed the dead King Lear “calls” him; or in other word, Kent was going to commit a suicide. For us it might be absurd and silly, even for people at the era of this story, but that act only made Kent’s loyalty very subtle, and confirmed his nobleness.

However, sometimes Kent could be temperamental and blunt, that put him in trouble. The obvious example was when he insulted Oswald—Goneril’s attendant—and even attacked the man because he had once been impolite towards King Lear. His action resulted in a humiliating punishment by Duke of Cornwall and Regan. Although he had done it out of his being nobleman and his loyalty to the King, nevertheless he shouldn’t attack a messenger who did not do anything to him personally.

Kent (left) in stocks for a punishment
from: The Tragedy of King Lear - 2002
presented by: The ActorsNet of Bucks County

Apart from his bluntness, Kent was a tender-hearted man too. Perhaps it’s only Kent who could see how Cordelia actually loved her father dearly, her lack of love declaration didn’t reflect her deep and tender love. Kent saw the proof in King France’s tent when Cordelia was attending the sick King Lear, and his tender heart was touched by the scene.

O my dear father! Restoration hang
Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss
Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
Have in thy reverence made!

Kind and dear princess!


  1. setia banget ya si Kent =) Btw King Lear ini sudah pernah difilmkan belum yah mbak?

    1. Sudah pernah, Astrid. Yang terbaru kayaknya yg main Anthony Hopkins sama Keira Knightly, tp entah sudah tayang/belum.

  2. My character for this week.


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