I was an English major in college and have always enjoyed Shakespeare. The key to understanding King Lear is that it is what is called a "tragedy". The following link gives you a good definition and illustration of what constitutes a tragedy and should help in the understand of the writer's meaning:
www.teachtheteachers.org/proj.../process2.html (external - login to view)
eGallery of Tragic Heroes
Aristotelian Definition of Tragedy
Aristotelean defined tragedy as "the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself." It incorporates "incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish the catharsis of such emotions."
The tragic hero will most effectively evoke both our pity and terror if he is neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly evil but a combination of both.
The tragic effect will be stronger if the hero is "better than we are," in that he is of higher than ordinary moral worth. Such a man is shown as suffering a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of a mistaken act, to which he is led by his hamartia (his "effort of judgment") or, as it is often literally translated, his tragic flaw.
One common form of hamartia in Greek tragedies was hubris, that "pride" or overweening self-confidance which leads a protagonist to disregard a divine warning or to violate an important law
Definition of a Tragic Hero
A tragic hero has the potential for greatness but is doomed to fail. He is trapped in a situation where he cannot win. He makes some sort of tragic flaw, and this causes his fall from greatness. Even though he is a fallen hero, he still wins a moral victory, and his spirit lives on.
TRAGIC HEROES ARE:
* BORN INTO NOBILITY:
* RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN FATE
* ENDOWED WITH A TRAGIC FLAW
* DOOMED TO MAKE A SERIOUS ERROR IN JUDGEMENT
EVENTUALLY, TRAGIC HEROES
* FALL FROM GREAT HEIGHTS OR HIGH ESTEEM
* REALIZE THEY HAVE MADE AN IRREVERSIBLE MISTAKE
* FACES AND ACCEPTS DEATH WITH HONOR
* MEET A TRAGIC DEATH
FOR ALL TRAGIC HEROES
* THE AUDIENCE IS AFFECTED BY PITY and/or FEAR