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10 Wonderful “King Lear” Essay Topics to Compose a Paper On

King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated and critically acclaimed works, and makes for an excellent assignment in many high school and college level classes.

Here are 10 great “King Lear” essay topics you can use to write your paper on or to guide you towards your own:

  1. 1. There are a number of characters in the play besides King Lear and Cordelia that can be examined at length. What is the importance of characters such as Edgar and Edmund?

  2. 2. Two of the major themes that are worth discussion are both the private and public concerns within the play. What is your take on each of these and how are these themes presented in specific characters?

  3. 3. In Shakespeare’s day, the use of madness in theater was largely a comic effect. Shakespeare, though, appears to be serious in his portrayal of King Lear’s own madness. Compare and contrast the differing types of madness and what it means to mad within the play.

  4. 4. The play is not only a tragedy of ingratitude and pride and of children and parents; it is also seen as a tragedy of what it means to be a king, or kingship. Consider the power relations present in the play and the possible message Shakespeare may have been trying to convey.

  5. 5. The play is considered one of Shakespeare’s most layered works. For instance, the physical blindness of Gloucester is often considered to be a reflection of King Lear’s own spiritual blindness. Discuss this and other subplots in the play.

  6. 6. The female characters in the play are often seen as aggressive and powerful figures who are sometimes more ruthless than the male characters. Discuss how different the role of women is in this play compared to Shakespeare’s other works.

  7. 7. Do you have any sympathy for King Lear? Does your perception of him change as the play unfolds? What about your impression of Gloucester? Does he deserve sympathy?

  8. 8. Who do you blame for the disorder that erupts in Britain? Does one character hold the key to keeping order or was a break down inevitable and are the characters merely witnesses to what they have no control over?
  9. 9. The “Fool” is a literary trope that makes many appearances in Elizabethan plays. What function does he have in King Lear and why does he abruptly disappear from the action?

  10. 10. How does age and fear of death factor into the play? Is this merely a common feeling that Shakespeare points out about humanity, or is this a criticism he uses about his own characters?

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