The character traits that make up a good friend are honesty and loyalty. They should not be afraid to speak up and tell you when you have a bad idea, are being rude, or have food in your teeth. Shakespeare’s King Lear demonstrates the importance of a loyal and honest friend through Kent’s actions. In the beginning of Act 1, Kent tells King Lear to “see better” and realize how foolish he is being by disowning Cordelia (I.i.180). Even though Kent steps out of line and goes against what King Lear wishes, he acts with King Lear’s best intentions in mind.
Kent remains loyal to King Lear even after he is banished. He returns in disguise to continue to care for and protect King Lear from himself and others. “Now, banished Kent, / If thou canst serve where thou dost stand / condemned, / So may it come thy master, whom thou lov’st, / Shall find thee full of labors” (I.iv.4-8). In these lines, Kent displays his loyalty to King Lear as he risks his life to continue serving the King. He did not give up when King Lear banished him, he returned to continue supporting King Lear and to make King Lear realize his mistakes.
Although loyalty is one of the qualities that makes up a good friend, it needs to be paired with honesty. Because, without honesty, loyalty can easily turn into blindly following and serving someone. Goneril’s servant, Oswald, demonstrates this lacking quality as he blindly follows Goneril’s instructions. Kent points out Oswald’s lack of honesty as he says, “Knowing naught, like dogs, but following” (II.ii.84). Kent accuses Oswald of being a bad servant because he does not stand up to Goneril’s evil actions and tell her that she is making mistakes, unlike Kent who tells King Lear when he has made mistakes. Not even half way through the play, Shakespeare has delivered a message about the importance of honesty and loyalty in friends.