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King Lear Approach Paper

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A. King Lear by William Shakespeare
B. Feudal England, 17th century
C. Feudal England
D. Feminist

In the play King Lear by William Shakespeare, the author portrays women as strong, important characters, contradicting the actual role they played in society during the 1800’s. Lear had three daughters; Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Goneril and Regan are so wretched and power starved that they went to extreme measures to gain absolute power of the kingdom. Not kind and passive like most women at the time, these two sisters plotted against their father and stripped him of his power. They are portrayed as such evil beings whereas Cordelia is portrayed as the opposite. She is shown as the loving daughter who hurt Lear’s pride when she refused to outwardly praise and love him, believing that true love should be shown in the heart. In return she is banished from the kingdom and treated poorly.

Though she is not strong in the sense that Goneril and Regan are strong, she is strong in the sense that she was the only one who could bring Lear back to sanity. If it were not for her Lear would have had no one to rely on. Women are needed in this play to be aggressive, outspoken and opinionated or else there would be no story. Edmund was born a bastard, conceived in “passion”, which lead to Edmunds mindset that he was born in passion so therefore he is passionate and has what others conceived in marriage do not. All women in King Lear play a strong role because they are what shape the decisions of others, they make the rules and they are the ones left to pick up the pieces.

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