Masculinity In King Lear

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The play King Lear by William Shakespeare is an ultimate in tragic downfall as it depicts an old King and his vassal's children deceive them and remove them from their political positions, as well as their positions as fathers. Throughout the play, Lear and the Duke of Gloucester become less and less important, due to their children's fight for power. As a result of this diminishing importance, both men experience a crippling of their masculinity. Lear asks his daughters, Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia to express their love for him, ”Which of you shall we say both love us most," (Shakespeare, I, i, 56). After he says this, his daughters Regan and Goneril confess to him all their love, telling him that no one will ever have their love like their father does. He asks them…show more content…
When she says this, she means she does not love him as much as her sisters say they do, because it would not be fair to anyone else if she gave all her love to him and none to, for example, a husband. This is a major blow to the King, he feels entitled to all of Cordelia's love, yet is only allowed to have a portion of it. Cordelia's stance is just, for if she has no love left to give to her husband, she would not have any happiness in her life other than her own father. Lear does not see this however, and is highly offended by her lack of affection for him. This creates as awkward dynamic between the two, for the relationship he craves seems to romantic, yet Cordelia knows better than to allow this to be true. As a result of his damaged masculinity, Lear banishes her, to regain what he has lost in his masculine authority. As the play progresses and his daughters turn against him, he loses all his followers and his power, representative of his masculinity. In the end, he is left with nothing, and is beaten in battle by his daughter; the ultimate in masculinity defeated by
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