'Women in King Lear are agents of chaos' argument (essay planning)

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  • Created by: Tay11
  • Created on: 10-10-15 14:30
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  • "Women in King Lear are agents of chaos"
    • Chaos surrounding male characters.
      • Lear
        • Dividing the kingdom and giving power to women
          • Machiavellian qualities: 'men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Everyone sees what one appears to be, few really know what they are'.
        • Curses and verbally abuses daughters
          • 'Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend to make this creature fruitful. Into her womb convey sterility'- makes G more masculine.
          • Corrupt as a person or arguably just mad in old age
      • Edmund
        • Out for himself
          • Seen as a Machiavellian character: 'The end justifies the means'
          • 'Why bastard? Wherefore base? When my dimensions are as well compact, my mind as generous and my shape as true'.
            • Sympathy at first but that changes when his aims change, at first to show it's not fair but then wants power so manipulates Goneril & Regan.
    • Chaos surrounding Goneril and Regan.
      • Disloyal/ promiscuous/ emasculating
        • G opposes Lear - reversed & unnatural.
          • 'Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool (...) do hourly carp'. [1.4]
            • It is not just the fool who can speak the truth now that Lear is no longer King
        • G strips Lear of his knights.
          • Speach: balance/ measured blank verse; prepared and shows authority. Justified arguement but not necessarily her place to challenge father's judgement.
            • Pagan world but Jacobean audience who believed daughters should respect fathers at all times. Jesus said to 'honour your mother and father'.
            • 'The fault would not 'scape censure, nor redresses the sleep'. Sibilance - sharp/ spiteful.
            • Fool's response shows not her place: 'the hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long, that it's had it head bitten off by it young.'
              • Proverb - metaphor for G's ingratitude. Baby bird eating mother, suggests how unnatural it is for women to stand up to father, or men in general.
          • Lear 'ashamed' that she has power to 'shake [his] manhood'
            • Knights only source of power/ manhood. Terrified of being stripped  of his power & masculinity.
        • Regan kills first servant with a sword.
          • Represents her as masculine, associated with violence.
      • Subverting stereotypical gender roles.
        • Why women shouldn't be given power.
          • 'Like a vulture', 'Detested kite'
            • Human greed turns people into animals - only praying on Lear because he's weak.
            • Curses and verbally abuses daughters
              • 'Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend to make this creature fruitful. Into her womb convey sterility'- makes G more masculine.
              • Corrupt as a person or arguably just mad in old age
      • How they handle power
        • Plotting against Lear
          • G: 'We should further think of it.' R: 'We must do something'
            • United against father but a contrast; rationality verses hast. Opposing techniques leads to falling apart.
    • Is Cordelia a cause of chaos?
      • Yes
        • Defiance of father causes his hasty reaction
          • 'Nothing, my Lord', 'I love your majesty according to my bond, no more nor less'
            • Conforming to patriarchal society of the time - give herself as well as her 'dowry/portion' to husband.
      • No
        • Innocent, Christ-like figure, symbol of femininity, dies a martyr.
          • 'No, sir, you must not kneel'
            • Humble but Lear worships her, finally sees mistake.
          • 'Enter Lear with Cordelia in his arms'
            • Alludes to Pieta statue - Virgin Mary carrying dead son but genders are switched
          • 'Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low - an excellent thing in a woman.'
            • Seen as 'cute but essentially helpless' or 'unworldly, self-sacrificing angel' in comparison to G+R who are more like 'immoral & dangerous seductresses' - Bertens. H.
            • Purer than sisters because of her stereotypically feminine ways. Lear seems to forget how she defied him beforehand, or just realises he was wrong to disown her.

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