A “Modified” Gender Switch

In the play King Lear, gender roles are a concurrent issue or theme that takes place within the play as Shakespeare believes that women are completely incapable of achieving power and they display power that is eventually turned into a judgement that’s corrupt.  Initially, Shakespeare alters society by giving Lear’s daughters equal distribution of his power as he can no longer control the kingdom smoothly.  Whilst challenging gender roles in society, Shakespeare makes their failure under power almost immediate as he believes women can’t control large quantities of power without guaranteed corruption of some sort.  When Goneril reduces the quantity of knights Lear can uphold at once Lear states in a tone of complaint “I’ll tell thee. To Goneril. Life and death! I am ashamed That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus, That these hot tears, which break from me perforce, Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee! Th’ untented woundings of a father’s curse Pierce every sense about thee!” (1.4.311-318).”  This part of the act exemplifies the despair in King Lear’s mind after his own daughters took his own power to use against him which also shows Goneril losing morals in her blood lust hunt for power.  More so than Goneril, Regan through time actually grows more off the ledge as her abuse towards her power is more frequent such as when she ordered for Kent to be put in stocks to reduce the power of her growing mentally ill father in order to overrule and destroy him.  All in all the gender roles that Shakespeare uses in the play go against society as females are the head of the house or the castle.  With this, Shakespeare believes that with all this enormous power distributed to the daughters, the sisters lose a sense of their own morals, striving for more power than they need which then leads to eventual corruption and destruction of the kingdom and the characters themselves.  Shakespeare believed that a quantity of power distributed within a world where gender roles differ from societies, that chaos is created with time, as he believes that too much power can conflict a women’s mental and causes nothing but their own individual downfall.  

One thought on “A “Modified” Gender Switch

  1. Zach B

    I agree with this. I think it is interesting to see just how much gender and its power had changed over the years. I think it is crazy that men would play woman’s roles, because they did not believe woman could play them.


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