The Role Of Medusa In King Lear

Medusa was once the considered the most beautiful woman in the entire world. When she proclaimed her beauty as far superior than the Gods, the Goddess Aphrodite struck her with a terrible curse. Medusa went through a metamorphosis, becoming a hideous beast with snakes for hair and a stare that turned men into stone. The story is seen as a cautionary tale of hubris, and the infinite power of the Gods. Some believe that Medusa’s transformation is actually a blessing, a blessing which kept her away from undesired male attention, and give her a way to fight back, a power rarely granted to the female sex.
In King Lear the women are equated to monsters and beasts; traditionally these comments are seen as insults. Examining the tragic play, King
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Taken advantage of and demasculinized by his two eldest daughters, Lear begins to rant, “Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air/ Hanged fated o’er men’s fault light on thy daughters” (Shakespeare III.iv.73-74). Lear, descending into madness, shifts blame from his own faults and wrongdoings to his daughters, Freud explains this as displacement. Most interesting about this line is not the psychodynamic aspect, but instead the equating of women to the plague, a destructive force which slaughters thousands. Women, in a classical scene, are seen a weak individuals who can do little but wait to be saved, yet Lear classifies his daughters as a disease capable of decimating a quarter of England. It is easier to blame monsters and beasts, and in this case diseases, than it is to blame another person,which is why Lear displaces his irrational anger from his daughters by transforming them into monsters. Betrayed by his daughters Lear “projects his sexual confusion and anger onto women” (Hoover 351), thus blaming the entirety of the female sex with his downfalls. What is meant by this In placing the entirety of the blame onto the women in his life, and by extension all women, Lear is giving women a great amount of power, which is a revolutionary concept. Going as far as to make them his guardians, entrusting the two girls with a man’s life and giving them the entirety …show more content…
The siren, the epitome of destruction and sexual desire, calls out to feigning to be a damsel in distress, until the readers come to realise that this “boring song […] works every time” (Atwood 26-27). Once the traditional role of damsel is taken away, the monster can be seen, and this makes the Siren a superior creature to man, she can manipulate men to serve her dark desires. In many ways Regan is akin to the siren, able to manipulate her husband, into torturing Gloucester. When the sisters discover the news of the traitor Regan proclaims that they should “Hang [Gloucester] instantly.” (III.vii.5) and her sister says they should, “Pluck out his eyes” (III.vii.6). These suggestions, though dismissed at first with Cornwall claiming he wants only to talk to the supposed traitor, are eventually taken into account and then performed onto the innocent Gloucester. The women, like the sirens, suggest for evil to happen, and seemingly bewitched by their proposals, Cornwall and Edgar complete these tasks. In a scene befitting of the true Siren myths, Regan and Goneril manipulate men into their deaths, as they lose their innocence and destroy an old man. Their monstrous traits give them power over

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