Essay on Anti-Feminism In Hamlet

Essay on Anti-Feminism In Hamlet

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In Shakespeare’s dramatic works there is no room for the heroic or the strong woman, and therefore many of his plays can be perceived as being antifeminist. Often he portrays women as weak, mad, sexual, and as even witches. Hamlet is no exception. The only women in the play, Ophelia and Queen Gertrude, are given confined and limited roles. These roles are from a male-dominated viewpoint and only add focus to the male characters instead of incorporating the insight and the impact of the women as well.
The Western world in Shakespeare’s time was male dominated, and men only had regards for women when it was connected to their bodies. The sexual objectification of women was normal in that society and women were seen as the property of their husbands. In Shakespeare’s time the word “nothing” had double meanings, one of which referred to the female genitals. Ophelia represents the object of Hamlet’s male desires and in Act three he says to her:
Hamlet: That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs.
Ophelia: What is, my lord?
Hamlet: Nothing. (3.2.111-113)
Hamlet is solely focusing on Ophelia sexual organs, “‘nothing’ is what lies between maids’ legs” (222). Ophelia seems not to be offended by this language in the least bit, and her actions cannot accurately portray how the women of that time perceived it. In some senses Hamlet may be a misogynist character and Shakespeare gives readers a reason for it in which it might be excused. It might seem as if his mother’s sexuality has poisoned his own, and he declares in his soliloquy, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (1.2.146). He views her sexual independence as a weakness and is appalled by her choice to remarry so soon after her husband’s death.
Gertrude has tremendous ...

... middle of paper ...

...ering herself” (224). Queen Gertrude’s speech on page 138 symbolizes the improperness of Ophelia’s burial as she strews her grave with flowers, it is a custom that someone in that time would do on the grave of an unmarried girl. It was believed that female madness was natural and a part of feminine nature. Ophelia’s madness “is a product of female nature, perhaps that nature’s purest form” (224). Ophelia’s mental state was affected by everyone around her who used and manipulated her and then it was brought on full force by the murder of her father.
These instances have led me to believe that Hamlet truly is an antifeminist play and the only brave or defiant act was the death of Gertrude by the poison that was set for Hamlet. The King warned her not to drink it but she ignored him and went ahead anyway, it gives the readers hope that she was trying to save her son.

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