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William Shakespeare’s play King Lear is one of his most famous and popular tragedies. Part of what makes King Lear so interesting is that it was written between 1603 and 1606, it has been critiqued throughout history and, yet, still remains relevant to modern day society. Dealing with themes of human nature, King Lear can be literarily analysed through many lenses to allow its critics to reflect upon the stereotypes and social norms of their own culture. Critics can particularly reflect upon gender roles; the public image of being male or female that a person presents to others. King Lear, then and now, reinforces gender roles in society. The symbols and language used are gendered, the portrayal of male and female characters reinforces sexual stereotypes, the relationships between male and female characters are imbalanced and this is reflected in their relative roles in society. Body Paragraph 1:
Point: "Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. Throughout King Lear the use of literary devices, such as imagery, symbolism, themes and motifs, are gender specific and, therefore, perpetuate the ideologies of the roles of men and women. Evidence: The storm on the Heath in Act 4, is perhaps the largest form of symbolism in the entire play and it is a direct representation of King Lear’s rage against his wicked daughters, as well as Edgar’s sexual sin with women. “What, has his daughters brought him to this pass!... Death, Traitor! Nothing could have subdu’d nature to such a lowness but his unkind daughters.” (3.4.61-67,68) “A servingman, proud in heart and mind; that curl’d my hair, wore gloves in my cap, and did the act of darkness with her;” (3.4. 81-82) Explanation: The storm is a representation of the results of the sin, and ambition of women. Evidence: Lear feels betrayed by women throughout all of King Lear,...
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