Misogyny In King Lear And Hamlet

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In the words of the newly elected President of the United States of America, “grab them by the pussy” (Mathis-Lilley). Those in positions of power utilize misogyny as a means of control and as a tool to reinforce a personally beneficial power structure. Like Trump, King Lear and Hamlet are men in position of authority who relegate women to subordinate roles. Both King Lear and Hamlet express deeply misogynistic attitudes towards women; however, while Lear’s misogyny manifests in his belief in the inferiority and weakness of women, Hamlet expresses his misogyny through his Freudian confusion of sexuality and womanhood. Ultimately, although the two men’s misogyny manifests differently, both arise from a desire to monopolize and exercise power …show more content…
Hamlet gleefully tortures Ophelia with pun after pun. He starts out their interaction by asking “Lady, shall I lie in your lap?” to which she replies “No, my lord” and he clarifies “I mean, my head upon your lap?” Ophelia says “Ay, my lord.” Hamlet then asks her “Do you think I meant country matters?” and she says “I think nothing, my lord” to which Hamlet says “That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’/legs” (Shakespeare 3.2.115-122). This entire conversation references sexual acts and female genitalia with Hamlet’s pun “country matters” refers to the slur, cunt. This slur is particularly notable because of the relationship between its two most well known definition. The Oxford English Dictionary identifies that cunt refers to both “ The female genitals; the vulva or vagina” and “A woman as a source of sexual gratification; a promiscuous woman; a slut. Also as a general term of abuse for a woman” ("cunt, n"). Hamlet’s suggestion of the word “cunt” and the word itself demonstrate how negatively Hamlet views women and how he equates women--as symbolized by their genitalia--with sex. Hamlet has an inability to speak to a woman without turning his mind to sexual matters. Later, Ophelia tells Hamlet “You are keen, my lord, you are keen” and he replies that “it would cost you a groaning to take off mine/edge” (Shakespeare 3.2.254-256). …show more content…
Similarly, King Lear sees women as inherently weaker and feels a need to control them. Throughout his titular play, Lear offers a plethora of references to the inferiority of women. When he begins to cry, he exclaims “Let not women’s weapons, water drops,/Stain my man’s cheeks (Shakespeare 2.4.318-319). His daughter’s betrayal has reduced him, and he equates this newfound inferiority with the same inferiority that he sees in women. After Goneril’s rejection, Lear declares: “I am/ashamed/That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus” (1.4.311-313). Because Lear misogyny originates from a desire to control the women in his life, their disobedience attacks his very

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