Fear of Women in Power

In class my group chose to focus on the motif of women being presented or seen as animals and even monsters. We found several moments in the play where male characters seemed threatened by seeing the women in power and thus had to characterize them as “monstrous.” This motif represents the theme that women are not respected equally even when in the same position with the same power as men and don’t receive the same respect in any way.
I found this theme present in the New York Times article “Nasty Woman: Why Men Insult Powerful Women.” Trump speaks down to several women in high power, calling them “emotional” or “angry” after simply standing up for their campaign as every other powerful male figure does. The article speaks of many politicians even years back who have made remarks about women that were so unnecessary but got played off as and were accepted simply because it was coming from powerful men.

I found these two sources very relatable to one another with their descriptions of powerful men having the ability to call women names and describe them in offensive ways. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Albany tells Goneril that she and her sisters are “tigers not daughters,” while in the middle of an argument. Despite anything Goneril has done, it is still extremely inhumane for Albany to refer to the King’s daughter as an aggressive mammal. Lear himself speaks about his “pelican daughters” later in the play, which clearly represents the power he believes he owns over them and the threat he feels of them taking over his kingdom.

Shakespeare uses this imagery and comparison to ferocious animals as a way to portray Goneril and Regan’s lack of power and cruel treatment received by every other man in the play.

2 thoughts on “Fear of Women in Power

  1. Arianna S.

    I actually wrote something just as similar. It’s remarkable how women endure this type of assault at the hands of men that feel emasculated. It’s also extremely interesting how society labels women as more emotional but when men feel threatened they act and respond out of emotion.This truly shows that women are just as capable or even more capable than men.


  2. lucas

    I completely agree, women are rarely given a position of power and when they do they are referred to as “bitchy” and other words in that realm. It is nice to see women in a position of power in this book.


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