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Here’s an example of a short piece on King Lear examining how women factor into the plot and help to chart the course of things.
Time and time again we see women depicted in the works of Shakespeare as the true brains and power behind these supposedly "strong men". King Lear is no exception to this move to empower women. Women often act as the puppeteers in his plays, and they are the ones who call the shots. In King Lear, we are introduced to a number of women who are power hunger, self-absorbed, and completely ruthless in their quest for power.
In the play King Lear, we are introduced to three sisters - Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia. Regan and Goneril follow the path of many of the women in Shakespeare's work - they are the power-hungry vultures willing to do anything, and hurt anyone. Cordelia, on the other hand, is sweet, loving, and not power-hungry – but to say she is powerless is completely untrue, as she may just be the strongest one of all. They are all daughters of the great King Lear, but is he really so “great” in comparison to them?
Through planning and scheming, we learn that these daughters are up to no good. King Lear has decided he is going to give up his power and land to his daughters, but the largest portion will go to the daughter who "loves him most". It is then that these three powerful women step into the forefront and really take over the plot.
Each of the daughters ends up succumbing to her own tragic death whether by poisoning, either killing herself or by execution. These tragic deaths help to secure their spot as powerful characters in the series who are able to move the reader and have them feeling all kinds of emotions. In the end it is King Lear who looks weak, timid, and blind to the reality of his life. It’s clear that all the power and strength was in his daughters instead.
King Lear is a typical Shakespeare play in that there are twists and turns, unexpected tragedies, characters you love to hate, and plenty of power hungry villains. Despite its title, this play focuses more on the actions of these women, how each of them goes about achieving her goal to gain power, and how each of them ends up failing miserably in the end.
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