Evaluate the Presentation of Women in King Lear

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Women in the play ‘King Lear’ are presented in two very different fashions by Shakespeare. Cordelia, the youngest of the three daughters, is presented in an entirely different way to that of Reagan and Gonerill in that she is presented as loyal and trustworthy with France marrying her on virtue alone without needing a dowry as an incentive. Critic Nicole Smith says Gonerill and Reagan ‘Challenge traditional roles [of women].’ This demonstrates to us how Gonerill and Regan are presented in a sly deceitful way; not the way you would expect women to be presented in the time of Shakespeare. Gonerill and Reagan also play a very big role in the beginning of the play as they eventually reduce King Lear to tears having continually cut down his army until it is no more. King Lear says to his daughters ‘if it be you that stirs these daughters’ hearts against their father’ which shows how he feels betrayed: a feeling he may have not felt if he had not been so foolish to dismiss Cordelia for her honesty. Cordelia, however, plays a smaller role in the first few Acts of the play as she is disowned by her father and is not visited. Gonerill and Regan are both cruel father and do not have the same loyalty we get the impression as Cordelia does. Cordelia says at the beginning of the play ‘what shall Cordelia speak, love and be silent’ which shows that she loves her father however doesn’t feel she should lie about how much she loves her father. This truthfulness however lands her in a bad place as she is disowned by her father for not professing her love. Gonerill and Regan are the complete opposite here as they show dishonesty in lying about how much each of them loves their father. As soon as their father has given them their share of inheritance they become ungrateful and no longer care for their father. ‘And in good time you gave it.’ Here Regan tells Lear that he took his time

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