FEMINIST INTERPRETATION of King Lear in Act 3 Scene 7

Essay by Nivek2High School, 12th gradeA-, March 2008

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The tragedy of King Lear is a timeless play that revolves around the downfall of a great man due to a flaw in his character. The audience follows the tragic hero’s catastrophic demise and is manipulated into feeling sorry for them because their journey to self knowledge is a slow and painful one that they cannot recover from. However, in a feminist reading of this play, our attention is diverted away from the suffering of the Lear and Gloucester to makes us consider women as the victims of the patriarchal society. Furthermore, a feminist reading challenges and criticizes the roles of women depicted in the play. An example of a feminist reading is “The Patriarchal Bard” by Kathleen McLuskie.

McLuskie’s argument presents a traditional and conservative male view of the world of the play, and criticizes it as a patriarchal morality play in which the female characters are portrayed as evil and as troublemakers.

In her view of the play, she suggests how the play shows a “connection between sexual insubordination and anarchy” and “is given an explicit misogynist emphasis” However, in view of the social and historic context of the play, Shakespeare simply reflected how society at that time viewed and treated women according to the positions and roles that women were meant to fulfill.

In Act 3 Scene 7, Shakespeare presents the cruelty of Goneril and Regan after their succession as the powerbrokers in the patriarchal society. , This scene clearly highlights the “connection between women insubordination and anarchy” and the reversal in women’s role in that social order is disastrous to the patriarchal society The social order is inverted: the young are cruel to the old; loyalty to the old king is punished as treachery to the new rulers. In this scene, we see Gloucester being humiliated...