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During the renaissance period King James upheld a perception of sovereignty that was deeply rooted in notions of divine omnipotence Greenblatt 816 Jacobean Englands kings and fathers ruled as little Gods carrying a divine right bestowed upon them as men Greenblatt 571 William Shakespeares The Tragedy of King Lear and The Tragedy of Macbeth question King James perception of kings and fathers with strong evil female characters threatening the divine right of men In King Lear Goneril and Regans actions embody the threat against this sacred image of the king and father as divine while Lady Macbeth in Macbeth consistently places the masculinity of her husband on trial An analysis of Macbeth and King Lear reveals that feminine versions of evil represent the threat of male castration to highlight the vulnerable nature of masculinity Shakespeare illustrates this in both texts through the use of symbols and imagery as well as language In King Lear the kingdom is a site of male castration as it embodies masculine power but also a threat against male power While Edmund the bastard son of Gloucester enacts evil by manipulating his fathers perception of his brother Edgar the evil of Regan and Goneril is dependent upon castration For these two characters castration is a two-fold process requiring the usurpation of Lears kingship and his paternal position According to the Oxford Dictionary a king is the usual title of the male sovereign ruler of an independent state king By obtaining King Lears kingship Goneril and Regan reverse the power dynamic of gender The sisters castrate Lear by taking his position as king and becoming male sovereigns of the land Shakespeare further explores this threat of male castration by presenting it through an attack upon fatherhood and subsequently upon the patriarchal hierarchy of society Edmund in contrast to Regan and Goneril presents an evil that does not require the reversal of patriarchal hierarchies but rather upon working within this discourse
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