ARE THE FEMALE CHARACTERS STEREOTYPED IN KING LEAR AS DEMONISED OR SANCTIFIED WOMEN?
Autor Benjamín Donat Rubio
Are the female characters stereotyped in king lear as demonised or sanctified women?
Before analysing female characters in King Lear, we will comment on the main critical approaches to this play and we will see how these affect our reading of King Lear. From the beginnings of the twentieth century up to the sixties there are two main interpretations. The first of these understands King Lear as a “Christian Play.” This is fully understood in the last act where Cordelia heals Lear’s madness. Moreover Lear names her “a soul in bliss” 1, a name which clearly makes reference to Cordelia’s sanctity. On the other hand, a second approach refuses King Lear being a “Christian Play.” Why evil goes so long unchecked? Why such a bleak ending? Characters such as Cordelia seek to do good, but they are unprotected by the Gods, and they are surrounded by the chaos created by the evil characters. Man is alone in a godless world. He has to look for his own fate. From the 1980s onwards, other different interpretations of the play can be found. On one hand, authors such as John Dollimore assert that this is a play about power, property and inheritance. He asserts that Lear loses his mind when he loses his social status. He is not longer a powerful king, and he has also lost power over his daughters. According to him, Shakespeare focuses on what happens when there is a catastrophic redistribution of power. He sees a total collapse. Edgar and Albany want to recover the old order, but there is a black future before them. Another critic, Leonard Tennenhouse thinks that King Lear shows us the dangers of not following the old ways of the patriarchal order. Apart from these two critics we have another view, that of feminist critics such as Coppelia Kahn and Kathleen McLuskie’s. According to Kahn, Lear goes mad because he is unable
Bibliography: Brooke, Nicholas, Shakespeare: King Lear, Edward Arnold, London, 1963. Callaghan, Dympna, Women and Gender in Renaissance Tragedy, Harvester Wheatsheaf, London, New York, 1989. n Collinmore, Jonathan and Sinfield, Alan, eds, Political Shakespeare, New Essays in Cultural Materialism, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985. n Danby, John F., Shakespeare’s Doctrine of Nature, a Study of King Lear, Faber, London, 1969. n Ryan, Kiernan, ed., New Casebooks: King Lear, Macmillan, London, 1993. n n 8 Are the female characters stereotyped in king lear as demonised or sanctified women? FOOTNOTES 1 2 3 Shakespeare William: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, The Shakespeare Headpress Oxford Edition, Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire: 1996, p. 917. ibid. p.885-6 ibid. p. 886 4 ibid. p. 886 5 ibid. p. 886 6 ibid. p. 886 7 ibid. p. 887 8 ibid. p. 888 9 ibid. p. 890 10 ibid. p. 893 11 ibid. p. 893 12 ibid. p. 893 13 ibid. p. 893 14 ibid. p. 893 15 ibid. p. 901 16 ibid. p. 901 17 ibid. p. 909 18 ibid. p. 911 19 ibid. p. 911 20 ibid. p. 911 21 ibid. p. 911 22 ibid. p. 913 23 ibid. p. 913 24 ibid. p. 917 25 ibid. p. 918 26 ibid. p.918 27 ibid. p.920 9