William Shakespeare’s Hamlet takes place in Elsinore, a city in Denmark, during the middle ages, a time populated and controlled by men. In the beginning of the play, two women, Gertrude and Ophelia, appear to be weak, insignificant characters in the play but as time passes their roles and involvement with the main plots is amplified. In the beginning of the play Gertrude has a lot to gain from the actions of others, Ophelia mirrors Hamlet in his decline into insanity due to their struggle with internal conflicts. Throughout the play the frailty of women is a common topic. Even Hamlet himself said, “Frailty, thy name is woman” (Act 1, Scene 2).Thought as the play goes on the audience finds that the women are stronger and of more importance than they appear to be.
Ophelia’s death is known as one of the most poetic deaths in English Literature, she is seen as one of the more tragic characters due to her struggle between obeying her father and loving Hamlet. In the beginning of the play Ophelia’s father worried about Ophelia’s love for Hamlet because he believed once Hamlet became king he would not marry Ophelia like she hoped he would. Because of this, Ophelia is urged by her father to stay away from Hamlet. Initially Ophelia obeys her father and stays away from Hamlet but her love for Hamlet makes her break that promise as she continues to see him throughout the play.
In Hamlet, Ophelia is seen as virtuous and pure as the audience is frequently reminded that she is still a virgin. Ophelia then descends into madness after the death of her father and being scolded by Hamlet. In Ophelia’s last scene she is handing out flowers, each type of flower having a different meaning and reflecting their actions...
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...fiance. Ophelia’s death was rebellion against the society she lived in and the chaos around her. Gertrude’s death was rebellion against Claudius and his plans to murder her son.
Though the two women on Hamlet show independence by choosing their own paths and making their own decisions, they lived in a world where the events unraveling before them were out of their control. Ophelia displays courage and boldness by handing out flowers that resembled their sins to those around her, showing them that she was not as oblivious to their appalling acts. Gertrude proved herself to be a strong character because of her genuine concern and selfless love for her son. When you first look at these two women, they appear to be insignificant, weak characters but with further inquiry they prove themselves to be equally important to the main plot as any other character in Hamlet.
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