Femininity In King Lear

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The play King Lear is set in a time that both rejects and detests femininity. In this particular piece from William Shakespeare femininity is thought to bring weakness and a lack of power. All of the characters wrestle with their gender roles and some even take on the traits of the opposite gender in order to complete accomplishments. Janet Adelman describes many instances of anti-feminism throughout Shakespeare’s work in her critical book titled Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies Of Maternal Origin In Shakespeare's Plays, Hamlet To The Tempest. Adelman leads readers to several conclusions, many of which support the argument that King Lear is a male dominate play and that in the world of King Lear only in rejecting one’s femininity can a woman’s goals be achieved. King Lear’s eldest daughter, Goneril, is the first to appear to us on stage (Shakespeare). As her father demands from her, she tells him how dear he is to her. Though Goneril lies through her teeth by saying that she loves him more than she can possibly describe, her answer pleases the king. She hides her true nature behind niceties in order to obtain a sizeable amount of wealth from her father. Goneril turns out to be anything but what was expected of a feminine person. She is not innocent, motherly, or gentle. Most notably is that fact that she is not submissive to her husband or…show more content…
She too goes against the normal female role. Regan is cruel, power hungry, and not opposed to inflicting pain on those that stand in her way. Regan shows unnecessary cruelty. For example, after learning of Gloucester’s loyalty to Lear Regan and her husband decide to pluck out Gloucester’s eye. Once her husband, Cornwall, has fished out one eye Regan calls for Cornwall to get the other saying, “one side will mock another- th’ other too” (3.7.70). Immediately after Gloucester’s second eye is removed, a servant tries to aid his master only to be killed by

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