Theme Of Gender Roles In King Lear

1584 Words 7 Pages
Gender roles have always been a prominent underlying issue throughout history within an androcentric society. The OED defines gender roles as the role or behaviour learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms (OED). Shakespeare explores the theme of gender roles throughout King Lear regarding women and power. He suggests that women are incapable of achieving power on their own and that when they receive power it will corrupt their judgement, cause nothing but chaos and bring about their downfall. Shakespeare challenges the traditional gender roles of women in society, giving them power whilst making failure imminent. Shakespeare expresses his view of women and power while explaining how …show more content…
Regan, more so than Goneril, loses her morals while in a blood lust search for power. Malicious orders given by Regan such as the order given to have Kent put in the stocks as well as the order given to have Gloucester’s eyes ripped out, is where the lack of Regan’s morals show through. The orders given by Regan stem from the corruption of power and in turn, affect her morals. Traditional gender roles of women are once again challenged through these vicious acts. Regan opposes the orthodox gender roles by representing a more independent and cruel female role. The longing for control does not only toy with the theme of love, but also with the theme of trust. At one point in time, the two sisters found themselves aligned with one another as they fear that their newly gained power may be taken from them ‘Pray you, let us hit/together; if our father carry authority with such/dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his/will but offend us’ (Shakespeare I.i. 302-05). The trust the two sister’s once shared diminishes as each gain power. The thirst for power blinds the two sisters to the extent in which Goneril poisons her sister with vicious intent. Shakespeare uses these two sisters to clearly establish his views on how power can cause corruption in women through the hatred towards their loving father, the jealousy they …show more content…
The two daughters, Goneril and Regan, profess their utmost love for Lear while his third and youngest daughter Cordelia refuses to fuel his ego. This action shows Shakespeare challenging the traditional gender roles of women in the Elizabethan society by creating a female character that disobeys her father and shows independance. Despite Cordelia not receiving any inheritance from her father, she is still given power through marriage when she becomes wed to the king of France ‘Thee and thy virtues I seize upon [...] Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France’ (Shakespeare I.i . 252-57). Cordelia is not the only one who receives power from marriage, her two sisters Regan and Goneril do as well as they marry the dukes of Albany and Cornwall. The theme of power through marriage is an extremely misogynistic view expressed by Shakespeare throughout the play as it demonstrates the traditional and outdated gender roles for women. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, it is made apparent that only men are capable in possessing true power and women may only receive it if it is handed to them. When power is presented to someone, it builds an unstable foundation that is destined for

Related Documents

Related Topics