Dysfunctional Families

William Shakespeare’s King Lear among many other themes and concepts is a timeless example of familial relations along with gender roles. When I think of a modern day family with many kids I immediately picture the older sisters as the bossiest. However when there is an older brother, they are viewed as responsible and protective for doing the same things. Although uncommon, the concept that Lear’s power is going to his daughters with their obeying husbands following behind is a refreshing story line. I think that the one thing that is overlooked is the attitude the audience is expected to have towards Goneril and Regan. It is important to see them as antagonists, but I think it is also important to consider that if their characters were male, their betrayal of Lear would not be considered so intense. Which ties to the idea that daughters are meant to obey their fathers and be grateful for him and what provides them, simultaneously accepting that sons are portrayed to be more prone to disloyalty in a search for independence. So although it seems progressive that Shakespeare has Goneril and Regan to be daughters rather than sons, it is important to consider whether or not it was to ensure that their characters came off as evil and disloyal rather than independent.

2 thoughts on “Dysfunctional Families


    Yes, I agree if the genders were different and they were his sons the betrayal would be less intense. But, because their women, they got called evil and were looked at as witches.


  2. Hayden S

    I would think that if they were his sons, it would be more considered as them taking over the kingdom from their weak, old, and mad father. This sentiment is way different than Goneril and Regan basically tricking him out of everything that is keeping Lear sane.


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