Women have more power and agency in Shakespeare’s comedies than in his tragedies, and usually there are more of them with more speaking time, so I’m pretty sure what Shakespeare’s saying is “men ruin everything” because everyone fucking dies when men are in charge but when women are in charge you get married and live happily ever after
Raised from birth to be the crowning jewel in your fathers crown. With stolen kisses in a crowded ballroom, you throw the crown to the ground.
Once-lady, how does Romeo feel in your hands, tonight as you learn a new name?
Do you think of your mother, sleeping in the same house, as your beloved breathes the songs of the gods and creation into your skin?
Are you flirting with the Ecstasy you have heard whisper in dark corners, that which no priest or tutor ever taught you of? Tonight you will find that loves’ rapture can never have a price too high.
Tomorrow, Lady Now-Montague, will you pay it?
Lady Macbeth, all hail.
Decades from now, they will speak of you in hushed tones.
Hell raiser, life taker,
stone cold, cold blood
they will call you.
But Macbeth is just so weak, so wavering, thinking his way into a great hole in the ground. He could never be strong enough, with all his flaws, ever tragic. Your willing words will win his conscious for just long enough, for tonight you bring about your crown. Blood, dagger, drugs in place, tell me lady:
How will you wash Duncan’s blood from your dreams?
so beautiful and bright-you deserve all the happiness you search for but you will find it not:
there is no space for love in this kingdom of cautious absolutes.
You will watch the noble mind of the man you once wished to marry decompose before your eyes without knowing why he curls his hands around your shoulders in anger and lets loose biting words.
How can they be the same hands that once held you?
When you receive the news of your father, feel your own notions begin to wither like the flowers you wear in your hair and understand.
Lady fair, not frail, will you answer the river’s call of refuge?
Hello! I have two questions. 1) Why do most people curtsy or bow when leaving you a message? 2) What do you think of the lack of mothers in King Lear? We were discussing this in my Shakespeare and Philosophy course yesterday, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I mean, Shakespeare knew how to write a complex mother figure (like Volumnia), but why didn't he include even a basic mother in King Lear?
Hello! (1) Curtsying explanation is on the FAQ page–always a good idea to check that. (2) I think the absence of mothers is actually really crucial to the story of King Lear and has nothing to do with Shakespeare not being able to write a mother figure. His other plays are full of them–Coriolanus, yes, but also Winter’s Tale, Henry VI, King John, Richard III, etc. etc. The absent mothers in King Lear are a popular topic for critical debate, and I think what it comes down to is the raging misogyny of both father figures in the play. Lear and Gloucester both blame their own shitty parenting on their repudiated children’s absent mothers–Edmund is constantly criticized as the son of a whore, and the first thing Lear does when his daughters displease him is call them bastards and accuse their mother of adultery. These two grown men obsess over female fidelity and absolutely refuse to take responsibility for their own failings, because it’s so much easier to blame it on women who aren’t even there to defend themselves.
That absence also contributes to their fucked-up family dynamics. Lear and his daughters struggle to find a maternal force in their nuclear family–he fears turning into a mother when their cruelty makes him cry and even talks about developing a womb which will poison and strangle him from the inside, and Regan and Goneril are accused of treating him like a recalcitrant child when power shifts from his hands to theirs (“Thou mad’st thy daughters thy mothers,” the truth-speaking Fool says to him). Parents and children and sexual partners are constantly conflated and confused. Cordelia doesn’t recognize a difference between the love she should bear a husband and the love she should bear her father, and a lot of people have postulated that King Lear’s attempt to sabotage her marriage proposals comes from a strange incestuous instinct to posses her completely himself. Similarly, when Regan’s husband dies, the man she seeks to replace him is the same man her late husband offered to act as surrogate father to. Is she mother or wife? Hard to say. Because there’s no mother in the picture, daughters and wives end up assuming those roles. If there were actually a mother in the picture, this demented dynamic wouldn’t even be possible. That’s the crisis. The fathers don’t have wives and the daughters don’t have mothers and feminine identity takes on an incestuous grotesque duality. By the end of the play, it’s a huge Freudian clusterfuck. (And everyone dies.)
This is just my take, but if you’re interested in more, you might try to find
Coppélia Kahn’s article “The Absent Mother in King Lear.”