In King Lear, Shakespeare incorporates a theme that is prevalent in many of his other works, that of family structure, specifically, absent wives and mothers. The nonexistence of King Lear's wife and his daughters' mother also implies the absence of a Queen and a female political figure to balance the king's authority. While it may seem that male rule is self-sufficient, it can be argued that King Lear's reason is overshadowed by his power, causing him to hastily hand down his kingdom to Goneril and Regan. Had there been another position at the throne with whom to discuss this matter, perhaps King Lear would have used more sound judgment in determining the transference of power. Without a female figure of authority at the throne, he views his daughters as surrogate wives, relying on them to the point that he gives up protection, the one thing that he needs the most to remain sane and maintain the kingdom's order.
Keywords: Coppelia Kahn
[...] The use of in this context indicates that Lear believes that the mother can be blamed for the unfavorable way in which Regan and Goneril behave. Lear calls on Nature to punish his daughters: Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear! . Dry up in her the organs of increase, / And from her derogate body never spring / A babe to honor ( 293-5). As Myra Glazer Schotz explains, ‘dear goddess' of Lear's fantasy is not less cruel, blinding, or derogate than Regan and Goneril prove themselves to be; Lear's view of nature is an extension of his abhorrence toward the whole of the female (46-7). [...]
[...] With the wife of Lear and the mother of his three daughters nonexistent in the play, Lear views his daughters as surrogate wives, expecting them to continue to treat him as the foremost male figure in their lives, even after they are married. In doing this, though, he gives up protection, for he is not aware of his vulnerability and as a result, Goneril and Regan take advantage of him. When Lear seeks out Goneril to care for him, she utters, “Idle old man / That still would manage those authorities / That he hath given away. [...]
[...] As Coppelia Kahn asserts in Absent Mother in King the mother's rather than the father's role is the important one, as crucial to the child's individuation (development of a sense of self) as to the child's sense of gender a girl's sense of femaleness arises through her infantile union witht he mother and later identification with (37). One might think that Lear's daughters would have similarities in their personalities since they were raised by one parent, but there are noticeable differences. [...]
[...] He wants to be both at once, but instead he quickly ends up a king in name but without rule, and a father in name but without love” One can see that in dividing his kingdom among his daughters, King Lear tries to strengthen the body natural, but instead, he ultimately rids himself of the part of his body that is transferable. As a result, the body natural is weakened, demonstrated in his madness. Thomas McFarland argues that when he divides his kingdom, Lear behaving like a father and not like a king An even more damaging result of Lear's confusion of kingship and fatherhood is his feeling that, like a monarch, but not like a father, he can abrogate the ties of kinship. [...]
[...] Lear has continuously treated his daughters as subjects of his body politic in contrast to communicating a desire of love for and from them, so Goneril and Regan disregard the family bond and utilize their power to control him. Due to the fact that King Lear is without a nurturing wife, and in combination with the concept of Goneril and Regan as abusive mothers, Lear's perception of the mother is distorted. He only uses the word twice throughout the play, both times with a negative connotation. [...]
using our reader.