King Lear

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Kent Character Analysis

A nobleman of the same rank as Gloucester, banished by Lear in the first scene when he attempts to intercede with the king on Cordelia's behalf. Kent spends most of the play disguised as Caius, a disguise he takes on so that he can continue to serve Lear even after being thrown out of his kingdom.

Kent Quotes in King Lear

The King Lear quotes below are all either spoken by Kent or refer to Kent. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of King Lear published in 2004.
Act 3, scene 6 Quotes
"All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience."
Related Characters: Kent (speaker), King Lear
Page Number: 3.6.4-5
Explanation and Analysis:

Kent reports to Gloucester on Lear’s continual descent into insanity. He unexpectedly blames that decline on Lear’s restlessness.

This comment may catch the reader by surprise, considering that Lear’s behavior has been generally pegged to old age, anger, or illness. Kent, instead offers “his impatience” as the reason for Lear’s insanity, which seems to imply that Lear wishes to hasten some end. Perhaps Kent means an impatience for Lear’s daughters to serve him, which caused Lear to become increasingly frustrated to the point of insanity. Or perhaps “impatience” operates on a more metaphorical level—meaning an impatience for mental clarity or philosophical insight. Since Shakespeare has repeatedly likened that insight to madness, one could see that impatience in that domain would cause one’s “wits” to give way. In any case, Kent offers a model of “wits” that must maintain themselves with a consistent “power” against the threat of insanity, but which due a factor like impatience may fail and leave one privy to madness.

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Kent Character Timeline in King Lear

The timeline below shows where the character Kent appears in King Lear. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Old Age Theme Icon
Kent and Gloucester are in King Lear's court, discussing Lear's plan to give up his power... (full context)
Act 1, scene 2
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
...disorder in the skies that predicts all the chaos that has happened with Lear, Cordelia, Kent, and now him: "these late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to... (full context)
Act 1, scene 4
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
Kent returns in the disguise of Caius, a commoner, to offer his services to Lear. Lear... (full context)
Act 1, scene 5
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Lear explains what happened with Goneril to Kent (who is still disguised as Cauis), and then sends Kent to deliver a letter to... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Outside Gloucester's castle, Kent and Oswald run into each other, waiting for responses to the letters that they brought... (full context)
Act 2, scene 4
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
...and not to have been informed of her departure, Lear grows infuriated when he sees Kent in the stocks, demanding to know who put him there. Kent explains that Regan and... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Kent, out looking for Lear, runs into a Gentleman. The Gentleman describes seeing Lear out in... (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Old Age Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...stand your slave/ A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man" (21-2), Lear raves. When Kent arrives on the scene, directing Lear to a hovel that he has found, Lear finally... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
Lear, Kent and the Fool arrive at the hovel. Lear still insists that the "tempest in his... (full context)
Act 3, scene 6
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
Inside the house to which he has shown them, Kent thanks Gloucester, and then reports that Lear has gone entirely mad. Gloucester exits as Lear,... (full context)
Act 4, scene 3
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
In the French war camp, Kent asks a Gentleman about Cordelia's reaction to the letter that he sent in 3.1. The... (full context)
Act 4, scene 7
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
Back in the French camp, Cordelia thanks Kent for all the service that he has shown her father and asks him to take... (full context)
Act 5, scene 3
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...to bear his mixture of joy and grief, died on the spot. Edgar adds that Kent came upon them, as Gloucester was dying, and revealed himself as having served Lear in... (full context)