Although Albany’s weakness throughout King Lear seems to break gender stereotypes, his moral character growth subtly preserves them in the minds of the audience.
Albany is a foil to his wife Goneril; she is power-hungry and pragmatic, while he is cowardly and collected. When Albany constantly does not make strategic moves using his power, Goneril insults him and claims he is not manly. Goneril is portrayed with male stereotypes, while Albany is portrayed with female stereotypes.
However, Albany’s moral strength becomes apparent in the second half of the play. After dealing with Goneril’s antics for most of the play, Edgar convinces Albany that his wife and Regan are terrible people. But even after Albany vows to avenge the wrongs committed against Gloucester, he still agrees with her and forms an alliance with Edmund and Regan out of his patriotism to England. Although he is indecisive, through his dedication to his morals, Albany’s strength is developed throughout the play.
Regan and Goneril’s malicious actions come full circle; they both end up dying. Cordelia, who becomes a symbolic angel throughout the play, is tricked and killed. All women still lose at the end of the play, while Albany’s character undergoes moral growth and survives. He is a cowardly hero who becomes an enlightened saint. While Albany’s personality seems to break gender norms, this is not the case. He is still a man who ends up “winning” at the end of King Lear.
One thought on “Albany and Gender”
I didn’t give Albany much thought throughout the play, but I think you have a point in highlighting the fact that he’s one of the few characters left alive. Albany represents manhood more with a strength of mind. I think he makes his ultimate statement at the end of the story when he chooses to renounce the power of the royal family. He didn’t have to do that but I think it shows his humanity and his honorable character. Everything he did, even when he pulled Gloucester’s eyes out, he did out of respect and dedication to the government of England.