“It’s Only Okay When We Say It’s Okay!”

Throughout the entire King Lear Play, gender roles are questioned left and right. At the start when Lear asserts his dominance over his daughters but putting them through a love test, Goneril and Regan agree without any hesitation. The two sisters go back and forth fighting over who loves him more. Goneril first says “Sire, I love you more than words can wield the matter”(I.I.60). Regan tried to reboot her sister by telling her father “Only she comes too short, that I profess/Myself an enemy to all other joys’ ‘(I.I.79). From the start, it can be seen that they both are doing this for all the wrong reasons. However, King Lear’s third daughter, Cordeila, didn’t want to comply with what they were asked. She thought it would be wrong and fake. However, since Goneril and Regan were submissive and did what the man in power asked of them (their father) they in turn got rewarded and Cordelia didn’t. From the start of the play we see this almost dog lice treatment, where Goneril and Regan were “good” and Cordelia was “bad”. Overall, throughout the entire play women are constantly being rewarded and then insulated whenever they do “wrong”. After Goneril and Regan turn on their father and everything goes down the whole thing is switched and Cordeila looks like the “good” one. The men in the play discuss how Cordeil having control over her actions is beautiful and through metaphors they compare her to pearls and diamonds. However, earlier in the play she was wrong not doing what she was told. This all routes from the baseline idea that no matter what the women do in the play they are only rewarded for doing what the men think is “okay”

4 thoughts on ““It’s Only Okay When We Say It’s Okay!”

  1. TEAGAN OSGA

    You make a really good point. By contradicting themselves the men just look even more illogical and immature. What sucks about this the most, though, is that they will continue to get away with this, in and out of this story.

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  2. VERITY F.

    I think this piece really supports the idea that specifically, women tend to be rewarded when doing what they are told, but when they do something “unexpected” or different from what they have been told they are punished. Great points!

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  3. Caitlin C.

    I don’t think Cordelia was viewed as wrong at the start of the play. Goneril, Regan, and Kent all remark that Lear giving up his land was a really bad decision, so Cordelia did do the “right” thing, it just came off as insolent to Lear because she wouldn’t give a speech about how much she loved him. Your overall point is strong though, especially when you look at how much Cordelia is described as a “proper lady” in comparison to her sisters.

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  4. Rachel C.

    I definitely agree with this, it reflects on society as a whole too. The patriarchy disables women from doing what they need to do without being criticized for their every move. An example can be the societal expectations for women to look a certain way, and how conventional beauty is used against women. This is seen in King Lear because even though Goneril and Regan are two villains, they still were “intelligent” when it came to obtaining their power, showing that the readers didn’t like them when they were sucking up to their father, but also didn’t like them when they were defying their father.

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