Women In “King Lear” Essay
Women In “King Lear”
Women share center stage in most of the Shakespearen works. Many a plot by his pen involve women in the main themes. Sometimes the plot is revolved solely around them leading to a tragedy. In King Lear, Cordelia is the source of all troubles which finally leads to her own distruction along with her father and sisters. Shakespeare greatly depicts the characters of the three siblings, Goneril,Regan and Cordelia. While Goneril and Regan form the Evil group, Cordelia represents the sweet,innocent and the noblest person of all the three.
King Lear while testing his daughters’ love towards him asks each of them to tell him how much they love. Regan and Goneril flatters the old father with false depictions while Codelia simply says that she loves him as a daughter loves her father. The King utterly annoyed abandons her and decides to stay with Regan and Goneril. The evil side of Regan and Goneril is finally known to the King when he was thrown out. There is also a subplot running along with the main plot in the play which shows how the Earl of Gloucester is deceived by his illegitimate son and throws his son, Edgar out.
This plot is constructed in the same lines of the main plot but the Women characters are equally involved in both the plots causing utter havoc. We can see three types of characters portrayed by Women in this play. Lets discuss each of them here: Regan: She is the eldest of the three. She flatters her father with false notions and the King believes in her words. He comes to know of her sinful character only when she removes all his followers and treats him badly. She falls in love with Edmund, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester and conflicts with her sister, Goneril who loves the same person.
She is finally killed by her own sister falling for the same person. Her husband, the Duke of Cornwall captures the Earl of Gloucester, tortures and blinds him. We can see the wife and her husband involving in dark deeds and finally succumbing to their wrong doings. Goneril: She is the second daughter of the King. She too praises her father with false flattering with a false view of attaining his kingdom. Shakespeare sketches her character in a similar line along with her sister, Regan’s character.
She too falls for Edmund and finally kills herself before poisoning her sister, Regan. We can see her husband, The Duke of Albany later realises his mistake and tries to help the King and Cordelia. Goneril’s character is so cruelly pictured that she even asks Edmund to kill her husband to marry her. Cordelia: She is the sweetest of all the characters in the plot. She loves her father more than any one but fails to praise him like his sisters do. This is the only mistake she does which finally leads to King Lear’s death and her own death.
Such was her love for her father that she runs for him as soon as she hears about his madness and protects him till she dies. Lear later repents but it is too late then. One can see how jealousy, desire, lust drives the women leading to utter chaos in Shakespeare’s plays. One mistake by Cordelia shatters the entire kingdom which proves how important the decision made by a woman in a patriarchial society affects the entire kingdom. Talking of the subplot in the Play, The Earl of Gloucester being fooled by his illegitimate son abandons his son, Edgar.
Here the man, Edmund takes the center stage who finally being announced as the New Earl of Gloucester. Edmund plots the sketch to throw away Edgar from the kingdom and he succeeds in doing so. He would have achieved what he wished for had he not met the two women, Regan and Goneril. Both fall for him and demand him to choose only one among them. He later succumbs to Edgar’s sword. Thus women rule the entire play depicting both good and evil. Kent on one occasion even gets surprised to find how such cruel and evil women are the sisters of the noble Cordelia.
There is also a subtle display of foolness among the women in this play especially in the character of Cordelia. She could easily praise her father when she asks her how much she loves him. Instead she chooses to express her love in the most casual manner which leads to her own expulsion. In conclusion, one can clearly see how Women dominate the entire play of King Lear and how they change the kingdom to a tragic place.
World Wide Web site: Grootveld, Anna. “Literary Analysis: Women in Shakespearean tragedy. ” http://www.helium.com/