Gender And Gender Role In Shakespeare's King Lear

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Shakespeare and his works questioned and presented the Elizabethan society, the stage used as a tool to represent larger ideas. Gender in the play is largely linked with morality, sin, redemption, fall and passionate pleasure. In King Lear there is an abuse of power, especially in regards to woman. The devouring feminine, and a fall from grace by the patriarchy ensued through incestuous behaviour, adultery and unnatural relationships leads to a fluidity in gender and generational roles. The violation of the natural order awakens divine retribution, leading to the collapse of the kingdom and chastisement eventually resulting in the rebirth of the patriarchy. In King Lear gender issues resolve from a power struggle, a deviation by the paternal …show more content…

Firstly Cordelia is seen to deviate between two extremes either extremely feminine and passive or extremely masculine and assertive. She is a daughter, son, wife, and mother. The sisters Goneril and Regan are in contrast extremely masculine, they are promiscuous and fiendish. Lear calls them hags or witches. This further reinforces Elizabethan myths of women only being ‘men’ if they were religious. Religion was said to come from man’s deviation from nature seen in Adam and Eve where sin cut off them from God and paradise and sent all of humanity into chaos and destruction, with brothers killing each over. In this case Cordelia maintains her femininity because she is divine and with holy tears, while Goneril and Regan are fiends, in their power. It represents the image of good and evil polar opposites in the daughters. In the …show more content…

There is an unnaturalness where gender and generational roles are subverted. In the context relating to the death of Henry Tudor and the incest and witchcraft tainting Elizabeth’s birth and duality as a Virgin Queen. Overall in King Lear the issues surrounding gender are associated with unnaturalness, a deviation from the laws of nature, from the authority of God and the misuse of power. Gender and its treatment is the cause of the fall of Lear’s reign. The incest and adultery are a curse on the land and the royalty, the wind battles against the evil natures of the characters men. The restoration of the patriarchy and order in society is linked to the chastisement undergone by Edgar, and the result being the victory of his noble and chivalrous character over that of the false Edmund. The darkness and shame of the relationship to the female gender and sexuality are brought to life, and rage throughout, what was hidden or kept in the darkness is brought out. In relation to the context the issue being the challenge to patriarchal culture and the tragedy of the reversal of gender roles resulting from the hamartia or fall of grace of the noble

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how shakespeare and his works questioned and presented the elizabethan society, the stage used as a tool to represent larger ideas.
  • Analyzes how masculinity was associated with military and political authority and rationality. the king abandons this reasoning for emotions and pleasure in the play.
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