Event Title

The Madness of Misogyny: A Jungian Analysis of Lear and Edgar’s Hatred toward Women

Poster Number

42

Presenter Information

Connie Shen, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Fike, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Location

Richardson Ballroom

Start Date

24-4-2015 3:20 PM

End Date

24-4-2015 4:50 PM

Description

In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear and Edgar refer to female sexuality in similarly pejorative terms. Previous critics are divided in their evaluation of parallels between the two characters. Jungian Shakespeare critics H. R. Coursen and Alex Aronson discuss Lear’s resistance to feminine integration and Edgar’s fully individuated nature. Claudette Hoover states that Lear must first reconcile his femininity before achieving wholeness, but she identifies Cordelia rather than Edgar as the bringer of order and justice. Peter Rudynytsky claims that Edgar’s remarks about female sexuality reflect a true hatred of women rather than merely a disapproval of wayward sexuality. This paper probes further into Edgar’s heroism by comparing and contrasting his role and Lear’s within a Jungian psychological context. The king’s misogyny reflects lack of anima integration, but Edgar does not share his marginalized view of women. My thesis is that Lear, king turned madman, deplores women as a result of anima possession, while Edgar, future king disguised as a madman, is an individuated man whose apparent hatred of women is in reality a hatred of sexual promiscuity and societal injustice. C. G. Jung suggests that a man possessed by the anima is immature, hostile, and erratic, whereas the properly individuated man is emotionally discerning, intelligent, and stable. Whereas Lear, in his madness, displays characteristics of the former, particularly in his troubles with his daughters, he seems to make some progress with the anima in the final scene, though too late to avert tragedy. Edgar, who merely feigns madness, is a more properly integrated psyche. The condition of the state reflects both men’s psyches: under Lear it is in chaos; under Edgar, justice and order return. Ultimately, the psycho-dynamics of the individual determine the well-being of the body politic.

Comments

Presented at the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS), April 2015

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Apr 24th, 3:20 PM Apr 24th, 4:50 PM

The Madness of Misogyny: A Jungian Analysis of Lear and Edgar’s Hatred toward Women

Richardson Ballroom

In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear and Edgar refer to female sexuality in similarly pejorative terms. Previous critics are divided in their evaluation of parallels between the two characters. Jungian Shakespeare critics H. R. Coursen and Alex Aronson discuss Lear’s resistance to feminine integration and Edgar’s fully individuated nature. Claudette Hoover states that Lear must first reconcile his femininity before achieving wholeness, but she identifies Cordelia rather than Edgar as the bringer of order and justice. Peter Rudynytsky claims that Edgar’s remarks about female sexuality reflect a true hatred of women rather than merely a disapproval of wayward sexuality. This paper probes further into Edgar’s heroism by comparing and contrasting his role and Lear’s within a Jungian psychological context. The king’s misogyny reflects lack of anima integration, but Edgar does not share his marginalized view of women. My thesis is that Lear, king turned madman, deplores women as a result of anima possession, while Edgar, future king disguised as a madman, is an individuated man whose apparent hatred of women is in reality a hatred of sexual promiscuity and societal injustice. C. G. Jung suggests that a man possessed by the anima is immature, hostile, and erratic, whereas the properly individuated man is emotionally discerning, intelligent, and stable. Whereas Lear, in his madness, displays characteristics of the former, particularly in his troubles with his daughters, he seems to make some progress with the anima in the final scene, though too late to avert tragedy. Edgar, who merely feigns madness, is a more properly integrated psyche. The condition of the state reflects both men’s psyches: under Lear it is in chaos; under Edgar, justice and order return. Ultimately, the psycho-dynamics of the individual determine the well-being of the body politic.