The Absent Mother in King Lear

The Main Ideas of Day One

Women are inherently Hysterical

  • Symptoms include epilepsy, aphasia, numbness, and lethargy

  • Kahn proposed 'cures' for womanly hysteria include sex and potions

Maternal Subtext

  • mother is always there even when she is not physically there


  • Women learned how to mothers based on watching their own mothers while men learned how to be masculine in contrast to their mothers' femininity.
  • Oedipus complex

The Talking Cure

  • people suffering from hysteria talking about what bothered them
  • have patient talk about dreams, feelings, memories which would help get a better understanding of their mental and physical problems
  • physical symptoms were representations of unconscious mental conflict

The Concept of the Wandering Womb

  • Metaphor for feelings and needs associated with women
  • Some believed lack of sex or failure to reproduce caused the womb to 'wander' within a woman's body causing a range of hysterical symptoms.

By Ben Knutson, Allison Schoenfeld, Chris Yun, Jason Zhang