i'm a woman.. get me out of Lear!!Following that tragic attempt at a joke in the title line, here's a question to ponder...What was Lear saying about women through "King Lear"???I'm...

i'm a woman.. get me out of Lear!!

Following that tragic attempt at a joke in the title line, here's a question to ponder...

What was Lear saying about women through "King Lear"???

I'm just wondering what he means through the capiutulation of Cordelia? Is Shakespeare suggesting that women are unable to win battles, to be victorious? I mean, Gonerill & Regan die terrible deaths, and what of Lady Macbeth- fiery, strong... then mad! Oh my, also, are all MR Stratford's female characters destined to doom?? hmmmmm please educate me! i'm a sponge waiting to imbibe :)

 sp_pongy Xx

5 Answers | Add Yours

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Perhaps we can take Cordelia's capitulation as a commentary on her willingness to sacrifice. She submits to nature - to her own best judgement and to what she sees as the proper relations between father and daughter/husband and wife. 

Submission, patience, and loyalty are the virtues that set Cordelia apart from the other characters, marking her own strength of character, I think, not her weakness.

sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Perhaps we should throw Portia into this discussion. She's smart, she's cunning, and she makes her new husband jump through "rings" (so to speak) to prove himself, in the process making him appear rather foolish.  I always did wonder what she sees in Bassanio.  Granted, the other suitors are even more foolish, but for her to fall in love with him for no reason at all seems as much as a plot contrivance as any Greg mentions in other plays (he refers to Othello specifically). Significantly, she does dress up as a man to accomplish her goals, but that shows cleverness and wiles more than anything else.  What about Rosalind in As You Like It?  Granted, all these women must marry, but what else was a girl to do in Elizabethan England (unless she could, like Elizabeth, be queen!).

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

As much as I love Shakespeare and find his female characters vibrant, the old adage about "women who play, pay" holds true in this and in all Shakespeare's work; they either "pay" with their lives or they marry (a loss of individuality).  Women such as Lady Macbeth and Juliet die; Helena and Hermia in Midsummer marry, as does Viola in Twelfth Night and of course, Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew.  While Shakespeare offers many compelling female characters, rich and dynamic in so many ways, I think it is a mistake to look to any of them as a source of female liberation.

sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Well, here's one take on the mean sisters, at least:  Shakespeare inverts gender conventions in order to produce a grotesque and horrific effect. Goneril and Regan are examples (say some critics) of inverted femininity. They maim and murder instead of nurture and engender life. The play uses gender to great effect in order to shock the audience and to this day the audience squirms while Gloucester has his eyes gouged out not only because of the visceral horror but because it is an act perpetuated by a female.  And then when the two of the fight over a man....As for Cordelia, it's not so much that she is defeated but that she is too good to live.  Poor Lady Macbeth, she's too evil to live. 

spongyheart's profile pic

spongyheart | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

thanx for the feedback guys!

"While Shakespeare offers many compelling female characters, rich and dynamic in so many ways, I think it is a mistake to look to any of them as a source of female liberation." jamie-wheeler

THat rings true...

well, then sagetrieb, by saying that Cordelia is too good to live... do you mean that in a world where the natural order has been so sundered, such simple goodness as we find in Cordelia is unable to survive? hmmmm, see, this offers an overwhelmingly dark view of the world... hence it's being a tragedy i guess. Well, here's a bit of post modernism in regards to Cordelia's death, "it was the last hideous joke of destiny".

 ahhh another curious thing to mention, what do you suppose of  the blinding of Gloucester? I see it as justice for his betrayal of Edgar... sad though, for such a gruesome torture to be inflicted on well, just a silly old man..

well, must be off! should be studying chemistry :P

spongyXx 

 

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