Baddie: A girl who is super attractive. She slays whether she’s wearing a tight dress or sweatpants. (Urban Dictionary).
“Baddie” is a commonly used term by Gen Z, misconstrued to be utilized as a misogynist word, weaponized by the male species.
“I ain’t ever been with a baddie (with a baddie)
She calm, so I add her to the tally
Madison, but I’m calling her Maddie (yeah)
Like, Mads, try send me the addy”
Own Brand Freestyle by FelixThe1st
Many people perceive this word as a positive label for women, but it objectifies them and only gives credit to their body. Taking back the term and using the factual definition; Baddie: a villain or criminal in a story, movie, etc. (Oxford Languages), we can redefine it as a word of empowerment, such as the way that Goneril presented herself.
Goneril can be described as a jealous, treacherous, and immoral authority figure, deceiving her own father and sisters. Using the Oxford Languages’ definition, Goneril is a technical Baddie, she plays one of the main villains in a male dominant work of literature. Most villains have qualities of independence, and Goneril is the epitome of an independent woman. She defies the control from her husband, Albany, and becomes the “pants” in the relationship, only proving her power and strength in the play.
Why is this a crucial element of the play? Goneril reversed the female stereotypes that Shakespeare aggressively utilizes in all of his writings. Instead of portraying Cordelia’s sense of innocence, Goneril pursues a different approach, creating the atmosphere of a powerful female lead. Her role isn’t mean to be favored, it’s meant to show the importance of a woman playing a villain, and how she’s not much different from a male villain. To compare Goneril’s character to another popular villain in Shakespeare’s King Lear, Edmund, they both practice the skill of deception towards their designated fathers. Edmund manipulates Gloucester by turning him against his brother Edgar, while Goneril deceives her father by illustrating herself as a loving daughter. In the end, the deceptions don’t matter when they both die, but it leaves a strong impact on the audience.
One of the main themes that stem from King Lear is the unreliability of words. Lear is lied to by his own daughters, misinterpreting deception with flattery. Goneril says to him in the beginning of the play,
“As much as child e’er loved, or father found,
A love that makes breath poor and speech unable,
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.”
As she is speaking, she’s saying that her love for her father makes “speech unable,” the irony of her expression of love towards him. While this phrase is not only ironic, it’s also a lie, but Lear believes it. The theme can also be related to the term “Baddie,” because one cannot rely on the Urban Dictionary definition, or the commonly used meaning behind it.