Free Hamlet Essays: Role of Women in Hamlet

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Hamlet Role of Women For many years in the past women played a small role socially, economically, and politically. As a result of this many works in literature were reflective of this diminutive role of women. In Elizabethan theatres small boys dressed and played the roles of women. In contrast to this trend, in Shakespeare's Hamlet the women in the play are driving factors for the actions of many other characters. Both Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, and Ophelia, Hamlet's love, affected many of the decisions and actions done by Hamlet. Gertrude influenced Hamlet significantly throughout the course of the play. Hamlet was very angered by his mother's remarriage. A few months after his father's death, Gertrude married Claudius, Hamlet's uncle. He was driven mad when his father's ghost appeared to him and revealed that Claudius was responsible for the death of Old Hamlet. Hamlet even termed the marriage as incest. Hamlet's fury is displayed when he throws his mother on the bed and says, "Frailty, thy name is woman" (Act #. Scene #. Line #). This shows his extent of anger because he makes a generalization that all women are weak. As a result of his mother's actions, Hamlet strives to seek revenge against Claudius for the death of his father. In order to marry Gertrude, Claudius kills his brother. Therefore, Gertrude is the driving factor for the whole setup of the play. Another significant female character is Ophelia, Hamlet's love. Hamlet's quest for revenge interferes with his relationship with Ophelia. There is much evidence to show that Hamlet loved her a great deal, but his pretense of madness drove her to her death. Ophelia drowned not knowing what was happening to her. This can be deduced by the fact that she flowed down the river singing and happy when in truth she was heartbroken. Ophelia was very much afraid when she saw Hamlet "with his doublet all unbraced; No hat upon his head; his stockings foul'd, Ungarter'd, and down-gyved to his ancle" (Act #. Scene #. Line #). She described him as being "loosed out of hell" (Act #. Scene #. Line #). In addition to that he scared her when he left the room with his eyes still fixed on her. She is especially hurt when Hamlet tells her that he no longer loves her and that he is opposed to marriage. He advises her to go to a nunnery and avoid marriage if she can.

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