Gender and Power in King Lear

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When it comes to reading Shakespeare’s play King Lear there are many ways that readers could interpret it and react to it. The way that they interpret the text has to do with the way that Shakespeare chose to distribute the power among female and male characters as well as the background of the reader. One of the main features of King Lear that has the biggest influence on how people read it is that the main man, Lear, and the main women, Regan and Cornwall, are that the gender characteristics in these people are atypical. The play opens with King Lear making the decision to split his kingdom among his three daughters. Lear’s wife is assumed to have passed away when the three girls were young. Lear would have then had to have taken up the job of father and mother to the girls. It is show right away that Lear has been given the opportunity to develop the mothering nature that is present in most women. He then continues to demonstrate his female traits when he shows that he is emotional when dealing with close friends. Lear had power as he was the king but after showing his female traits he gives his kingdom and power away. Today’s young males would read the introduction to King Lear without much depth. As they have grown up in a patrial society they might possibly wonder why the man is handing power over to the woman. They would probably overlook the female traits of Lear because they are not completely obvious. A scholar may read it that even though the man has given power to a woman it was given by a man who was feministic. King Lear soon chooses to banish his only loyal and loving daughter gives the power to his two eldest daughters. The eldest daughters are now powerful as well as being emotionless. This display of masculine characteristics by the two women also works to create multiply ways to read King Lear. Cordelia the best representation of “female”

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