Hamlet's Bitter Attitude Projected onto Women

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In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a young prince named Hamlet is shocked to learn of his father’s murder carried out by his uncle and his mother’s incestuous marriage with his uncle. Hamlet is undoubtedly angry and upset at his mother for remarrying so soon after the death of his father and begins to believe all women act in the same manner as his mother. Through Hamlet’s harsh treatment of the female characters, Shakespeare portrays an unjust distrust towards all women and their presumed potential for betrayal.
The queen’s impetuous remarriage ruined Hamlet’s opinion on womanhood. After Hamlet’s speech about suicide and death, Hamlet describes the causes of his pain, specifically his disgust at his mother’s marriage to Claudius. Hamlet is upset with his mother’s choice in remarriage more so than the actual death of his father. As Hamlet contemplates his mother’s marriage, he cries out “frailty, thy name is woman!” (Shakespeare, I. ii. 150) Because of his mother’s actions, Hamlet sees all women as weak, frail, and untrustworthy. Hamlet goes on to explain the unreasonable timing of his mother’s marriage, stating how an animal would have mourned the loss of its mate longer than Hamlet’s mother did. To Hamlet, Gertrude has sullied his father’s memory by remarrying so quickly and with seemingly no regret. Hamlet also denounces Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage by noting the incest between the two, exclaiming “O most wicked speed, to post/ With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (Shakespeare, I. ii. 161-162) Hamlet blames women’s lust for his mother acting so soon in remarriage, despite her grief in her late husband’s death just a few weeks before. Hamlet is appalled and angry that his mother has committed incest, a sin, and less than two mont...

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...lled in him the seeds of hatred for all women, which he takes out on Ophelia.
Hamlet’s relationship with his mother reflects how he will treat other women in his life. Therefore, Hamlet’s anger and contempt towards his mother fuels his harshness towards all women, including Ophelia. Hamlet treats the women in his life with bitterness, whether justified or not because Gertrude and Ophelia are regarded as submissive and the epitome of the weak women during this time in the seventeenth century. Shakespeare conveys that the only way a woman can be trustworthy is if she is chaste and pious because otherwise, women are the source of evil and bestial lust.

Works Cited

Sen, Taraknath. “Hamlet’s Treatment of Ophelia in the Nunnery Scene.” The
Modern Language Review, 35.2 (Apr., 1940): 145-152. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Print.
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