King Lear is a King of England who has three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. A naive person, he voluntarily gives up his power when he decides to split his kingdom. He bases his decisions about how much each daughter gets only on their words. The two evil daughters, Goneril and Regan, get the kingdom for themselves and promptly turn their backs to the king. Stripped of his traditional military escort, Lear is left homeless in a severe storm. His mind refuses to accept the reality and he goes mad. Only in his madness he understands the truth and realizes that he probably wasn't such a good and smart king as he thought himself to be.

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Kent is a loyal servant to the King. Banished from the court when he tries to speak for Cordelia, he disguises himself as someone else and proposes his services again to Lear. Lear, not recognizing him, accepts. Kent stays by the king throughout the play, and supports him in his worst moments.

In this play, where all people turn out to be very different from what they've been thought by other people to be, the Fool has a very special role. Contrary to his name, he is the sole voice of reason whom Lear listens to. The name shields the Fool from the king's wrath, but it also prevents him from getting Lear to understand what he is saying becuase the king doesn't want to take him seriously. Nevertheless, the Fool accompanies Lear in all his misfortunes throughout the first half of the play.

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Edgar is one of the two sons of Gloucester. The other son, Edmund, frames Edgar in a plot to get Gloucester's inheritance. Gloucester thinks Edgar wants him dead, and orders his servants to find and imprison his son. Edgar leaves his father's court and disguises himself as a mad man. Gloucester, who is blinded by Cornwall and Regan, meets Edgar, and, not recognizing him, asks him for help in comitting a suicide. Instead, Edgar stages an act that helps his father to see the truth and realize who was right and who was wrong in the dispute. Edgar then comes to the English court and fights and kills Edmund. At the end of the play, after all high-placed characters die, Edgar becomes the king of England.

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Earl of Gloucester is an unhappy man whose misfortunes are parallel to those of King Lear. When one of his sons, Edmund, says that the other son, Edgar, is plotting to overturn him, Gloucester beleives him instantly. However, it is Edmund who executes the coup. Later, Gloucester is blinded by Cornwall for his help to the king. Ready to die, he encounters Edgar, who is disguised as a madman, in a forrest. Edgar helps his father understand the truth. Gloucester, as most other characters in King Lear, doesn't live to the end of the play; he dies during the battle between the French and the English.