Essay On Femininity In Shakespeare's Hamlet

analytical Essay
463 words
463 words

With particular reference to Hamlet, feminist critics might explore the characters of Ophelia and Gertrude and how they challenge—or fail to challenge — the domination of male characters. Feminist critics would also be interested in exploring how the play expresses ideas about femininity that were common in Shakespeare's lifetime and how complicit Shakespeare is in Hamlet's personal misogyny. … Elaine Showalter's essay "Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism" explores the difficulties, even embarrassments, that feminist critics have had in approaching Ophelia. The problem is that Ophelia has tended to be overshadowed by Hamlet, even by feminist critics, who then feel the need to liberate Ophelia from obscurity. However, even liberated Ophelia is problematic for she suggests some potentially troubling connections between femininity, female sexuality, and madness. Three Feminist Approaches Ophelia as the archetypal mad woman
Showalter asks: Does Ophelia represent a "document of madness (as Laertes claims) or does she represent the textual archetype of woman as madness or madness as woman?" The issue that Showalter is exploring here is the issue of how closely Ophelia's madness is connected to her …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Argues that french feminist theorists suggest that ophelia's madness suggests the inability of male language to really represent femininity.
  • Analyzes how feminist critics account for ophelia's madness and death suggest that she represents the female side of hamlet which must be rejected and killed.
  • Analyzes how feminist critics might explore the characters of ophelia and gertrude and how the play expresses ideas about femininity that were common in shakespeare's lifetime.
  • Analyzes how showalter explores the issue of how closely ophelia's madness is connected to her femininity.

In this reading, as Showalter describes it: "Hamlet's disgust at the feminine passivity in himself is translated into violent revulsion against women and into his brutal behaviour towards Ophelia." Certainly there is a tradition of seeing Hamlet as rather “feminine” and a number of female actors have taken on the role, believing that they could more fully explore this side of his nature. It is also true that Hamlet berates himself for behaving in a too feminine manner asking why he is unable to act but must instead, "like a whore, unpack my heart with

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