Presentation of Women in King Lear

‘Tigers, not daughters…’ Some critics suggest King Lear is a play which presents women as monstrous or inhuman. Would you agree that this play reflects a patriarchal world view which seems terrified by women and what they might represent?
Throughout King Lear, the audience are able to see how the various female characters are presented. Due to the different characteristics which Regan, Goneril and Cordelia all have, it is possible to argue that Shakespeare may have wanted to present women in a number of different ways to demonstrate the place that a woman would have stereotypically had during the Elizabethan period.
Within King Lear, there are two very different female characteristics presented to the audience. Firstly, Cordelia is presented as a young and innocent woman who is in constant need of a male figure to protect her. The audience rarely see her without someone to look up to at the beginning of the play, almost as soon as her father disowns her, France comes along to pick her up and take care of her. This goes against the view that the female characters are ‘tigers, not daughters’ as Cordelia never shows a powerful and independent side to her within the first scene of the play which we see her in. However, Regan and Goneril both have completely different characteristics to Cordelia as they purposefully plot against their father even when Lear is left out during the storm. This huge contrast between the daughters demonstrate that women can be presented to be considered as either dutiful or ‘inhuman’.
From looking at Regan’s characteristics, the argument that women are presented as ‘monstrous or inhuman’ can in some ways be supported. Regan is the first character to kill someone else in the play, ‘Give me thy sword’, this first act of violence prompts the play’s genre of tragedy to start taking place. An Elizabethan audience may have been surprised at Regan’s violent actions due to the way in which women were viewed at the time. This audience may have...