Hamlet, by William Shakespeare is a well known play, that not only tells a tragedy about revenge and philosophical thinking, but it indirectly emphasizes societies’ views toward women. Shakespeare does a fantastic job at depicting the expected behavior and roles of women through his female characters; Ophelia and Gertrude. Gertrude and Ophelia are portrayed as weak and dependent, a common belief of society toward many women of the time. Hamlet was written and published during the late middle ages (14th -15th century). A time when women were necessary, simply due to their child bearing abilities. They were to be seen as their husband's property, and if they were unfortunate enough to lose their husbands, they would most likely follow command from the next man-most likely their son. The views of this era are clearly shown through the actions and behavior of women in this play. Shakespeare’s play Hamlet captures the stigma, that still exists today: women are weak and dependent upon their male counterparts.
Even though women’s rights has evolved drastically, today and throughout history, women still largely adhere to men’s demands. Men, who withhold most of the power in relationships, tend to expanded their own power at the cost of these women, displaying that anybody in a position of power can become uncontrolled. A similar scenario of imbalanced power appears throughout Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays women as pawns in a mostly male world, due to their desire for acceptance from men, women are led to their downfall, showing that in seeking a man’s approval, they often fall victim to men’s greed and manipulation.
The rights of women are often greatly suppressed and seen as less important than the rights of men throughout all aspects of life. Since the beginning of human evolution, females have had to fight for equal treatment and have been discussed in several types of media and writing. It is not uncommon for female characters to be portrayed as being inferior to the male characters, especially throughout a variety of literature. Throughout the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, it is indisputable that the female characters are often subservient to the male characters. Furthermore, the two female characters Gertrude and Ophelia are given limited power in their ability to make their own decisions, they often agree and obey to the thoughts and commands
Hamlet's behavior throughout the play, especially towards Ophelia is inconsistent. He jumps into Ophelia's grave, and fights with Laertes in her grave. He professes I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers/Could not, with all their quantity of love,/ Make up my sum [Act V, scene I, lines 250-253], during the fight with Laertes in Ophelia's grave, but he tells her that he never loved her, when she returns his letters and gifts, while she was still alive. Hamlet subtly hints his awareness of his dissolving sanity as he tells Laertes that he killed Polonius in a fit of madness [Act V, scene II, lines 236-250]
He urges Ophelia to go to a nunnery rather than experience the corruptions of sexuality. Hamlet blames the bad woman he is intimately intertwined with for his indecisiveness between a man 's power and the ability to do right. He acts as though it would be strange for him to not be cruel to women. Another display of his rudeness is his mocking of them. Knowing that Ophelia is obsessed and affectionate towards him, he taunted her. He purposely gave her false hope, immediately after telling her how stupid she is, by saying to her “I did love you once" (3.1.114). Ironically, he then proceeds to state the truth: that he never loved her, to which she reveals “I was the more deceived” (3.1.118). Now, having lost all his patience, he commands her to go to a nunnery. He also tells her that he did not love her and would have rather not been born. In the quote "accuse me of such things that it was better my mother had not borne me” (3.1.120-121). This quote makes it clear that he is homosexual and will always continue to be such, stating he would never prefer existing to loving a woman. He is even incapable of loving his mother as once before. Throughout the story, he is almost constantly complaining and condemning her for being disloyal to his father, which only further proves to him that women are incapable of truly loving anyone. On his deathbed, he holds to his homosexual nature and voices his haughty farewell to his mother, "Wretched queen, adieu!” (5.2.306) this perfectly highlights the division he had between the two genders even to his deathbed; Unmannerly vs.
While Hamlet was talking to his mother, he heard a noise behind the curtains and made a sudden move by stabbing him. The queen addresses this as a “rash and bloody deed” (lll.iv.28), but Hamlet does not consider it as bad as what she has done to his father. As a result of this, Hamlet is acting truly mad because he is not expressing a human reaction to what he has done. Instead he made it about his mother, which shows an insane side of Hamlet. When the king inquires Hamlet on the death of Polonius and asks where he is, Hamlet has a very weird response. Hamlet tells the king that Polonius is “at supper” (IV.iii.17), “not where he eats, but where ‘a is eaten” (IV.iii.19). As Hamlet addresses this to the king, it makes no sense because Polonius is dead, behind the curtain, but Hamlet claims he is at supper and this shows that Hamlet is losing it. When Hamlet receives the news on Ophelia’s death, he races to her grave where he meets Laertes, her brother. While they argue, Hamlet describes his love for Ophelia by addressing “forty thousand brothers/count no, with all their quantity of love,/make up my sum” (V.i.255-257). Opposite to all of Hamlet’s past interactions with Ophelia, he admits he loves her, but throughout the poem he shows one that he does not. He is showing that he is going insane because of the indirect affection that he shows. The actions of the death of Polonius, Ophelia and the responses to the deaths prove how Hamlet is truly
Hamlet is one of the most controversial characters from all of the Shakespeare’s play. His character is strong and complicated, but his jealousy is what conduces him to hate women. He sees them as weak, frail, and untrustworthy. He treats Ophelia, the women he loves, unfair and with cruelty. Similarly, he blames his mother for marrying her dead husband’s brother, who is now the King of Denmark. Hamlet’s treatment for women stems from his mother’s impulsive marriage to his uncle who he hates and Ophelia choosing her father’s advice over him.
Hamlet takes control of the conversation from the very beginning of the scene although it is Gertrude who was meant to be rebuking him and doing much of the talking. Hamlet succeeds in shaming her until the point when she begs him to stop. Hamlet having the upper hand in the conversation, asks his mother to change her ways, which she agrees to and asks for his advice, showing that she has submitted herself to her son. Hamlet does not really show much respect for his mother while reproving her and forcing her to sit down but he does love her. Some critics believe that his love shows sexual connotation and that is a reason why he gets so upset at her remarriage. There is a point in this scene when Gertrude thinks her life is in danger of Hamlet and gets frightened, which shows us that she considers him to be mad and harmful. After this scene she becomes aware that Hamlet isn't mad and starts trusting him as opposed to Claudius. This is exactly how Shakespeare has presented women throughout the play: they are easy to convince, very meek and become submissive to the men (as we can see Ophelia and her response to her father and brother). They are depicted as weak and inferior in comparison to the male figures, who control their lives. After the closet scene Gertrude keeps faith to her son and lies to her husband Claudius for Hamlet saying he killed Polonius in his madness:
Shakespeare’s Hamlet, shows strong prejudice against woman especially with such characters of Ophelia and Gertrude. Shakespeare created an interesting character with Gertrude; he created a character that sits in the middle of all the conflict and appears to not partake in much of it. However Gertrude does seem intent in defusing it at every possible chance she receives. Gertrude is a central figure in the play. She appears a great deal but doesn’t say much – implying mystery and creating an interesting uncertainty in the audience. Hamlet spends a lot of time dwelling on her marriage to Claudius and Shakespeare leaves many questions unanswered with Gertrude such as did she have an affair with Claudius behind old hamlets back? Why does she drink the poisoned wine that is intended for her son? Does she know it is poisoned? Gertrude is the mother of Hamlet and although they do not have a typical mother son relationship she does love him. Queen Gertrude is often interpreted by many as an adulterate, incestuous woman. Catherine Belsey states that typical interpretations of Hamlet maintain: ‘Gertrude a slut; and Shakespeare a patriarchal bard’ (Belsey,1997:34). Gertrude’s actions throughout the play could be read to show her to be a very passive character, far from a strong independent woman. This is shown with her obedience to Claudius, three times during the play, Gertrude is told to leave and each times she complies without hesitation. In Act 1, scene 2 Claudius says to Gertrude, ‘Madam, come’ (122). Then again, Act 3, scene 1, Claudius says to her, ‘Sweet Gertrude, leave us .’ (28), she complies with ; ‘I shall obey you’ (37). And finally, in Act 4, scene 1, Claudius say, ‘O Gertrude, come away!’ (28). This obedience that Gertrude ...
Frailty, Thy Name Is Women “Frailty thy name is women” (I.II.150) are words which are spoken by Prince Hamlet, the prominent character of the tragedy play Hamlet by Shakespeare, in his first soliloquy. These words underline how Hamlet truly feels about Gertrude, the queen, and Ophelia, his “beloved” maiden, and women in general. Although the two women play awfully passive characters and lack their voice for the world to hear, they are significantly important because they show how Hamlet, possibly Shakespeare, are a misogynist, which is one of the themes of the play. Through the fickle, passive, and submissive portrayal of the two woman characters, Shakespeare shows women needs to have an autonomy-sense, otherwise their lives will turn out to “cannot come to good” (I.II.163).