Nasty Women: Goneril and Regan

Goneril and Regan, I cannot help but admire these two powerful characters in Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear. While they are cold-hearted and cruel, they go after what they want. Goneril wanted to be with Edmund so she kissed him first. This is a huge milestone for women in literature during Shakespeare’s time. Women during the 1500s are meant to be quiet and used as objects to continue the human race. Goneril and Regan threw those ideas out the window. They manipulated people, especially men, in order to get as much power as possible. However, Shakespeare is still a product of his time. He portrayed them to be crazy, wicked, nasty women all because they wanted some power. But Edmund wanted the same amount of power if not more than Goneril and Regan yet, his madness seemed more subtle.

5 thoughts on “Nasty Women: Goneril and Regan

  1. Sara S

    I agree. Edmund went to crazy lengths to get what he wanted (power and titles), but his craziness is not highlighted as much as Goneril and Regan wanting power of their own. In my opinion, Edmund did more for power than the two women. Yet, like you said, his madness seemed more subtle than there’s.



    This connects to my post. I agree with the importance of addressing the progressive nature of Shakespeare including women in power, however, he shows them to be evil which only accentuates the perceived issue with women obtaining power. Their power was a reason to hate them rather than respect them.


  3. Abby S.

    I agree, there definitely is a problem in the media and the world when it comes down to women in power. I did enjoy that Goneril and Regan seemed to go after what they wanted, but I didn’t appreciate that they were seen as crazy for wanting power and taking control. I think that this is still sadly true to this day. Women in power seem to scare men, so the media must make them more “likable.”


  4. Alex P

    I really like the comparison you included between the attitudes of men and women an how Shakespeare portrays them. Your post also made me think of how different Cordelia is from her sisters because although she made a bold statement at the beginning of the play, she hasn’t continued to do so.



    I agree it is definitely a huge milestone for women in literature, but at the same time, I wonder if it also sets women back by making them seem cruel/playing into those gender stereotypes?


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