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.
Throughout time in history, women have continued to play minor roles in society, although with heavy contributions, as depicted in William Shakespeare’s tragic revenge, Hamlet. This unfortunate truth is reflected through the actions of Queen Gertrude, and Ophelia, as they are the true source of all conflict, seen as weak and characterless personnel, and incredibly dependant on the men in their lives. Thus labeled as the true driving factors of other characters actions, and as a result, receiving abusive treatment.
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.
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 ...
The story of Hamlet is a morbid tale of tragedy, commitment, and manipulation; this is especially evident within the character of Ophelia. Throughout the play, Ophelia is torn between obeying and following the different commitments that she has to men in her life. She is constantly torn between the choice of obeying the decisions and wishes of her family or that of Hamlet. She is a constant subject of manipulation and brain washing from both her father and brother. Ophelia is not only subject to the torture of others using her for their intentions but she is also susceptible to abuse from Hamlet. Both her father and her brother believe that Hamlet is using her to achieve his own personal goals.
In William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, he portrays a young Ophelia, who battles with her desire to please her father and Hamlet, eventually driving her to her own demise. The way Ophelia is perceived by the other characters in the book is not how the reader perceives her. Her love for Hamlet is strong, and very apparent throughout the play. The other characters, however, view her in the opposite manner. Her own father, Polonius, labeled her as a whore, casting her aside as useless. Ophelia’s pain consumes her as she fails to please her family and the man she loves dearly.
Ophelia begins the play as an innocent, trusting, and spirited young girl, full of promise and full of life. But, all too soon her view of men and the world in general is tainted. Her brother warns her that Hamlet may be toying with her affections and to, "fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister..." (1.3.33). With these simple words he implants the seeds of distrust and betrayal. These themes of distrust and betrayal are interwoven throughout much of the play, from the murder of the King, to the constant spying of Polonius.
In The Tragedy of Hamlet, Shakespeare developed the story of prince Hamlet, and the murder of his father by the king's brother, Claudius. Hamlet reacted to this event with an internal battle that harmed everyone around him. Ophelia was the character most greatly impacted by Hamlet's feigned and real madness - she first lost her father, her sanity, and then her life. Ophelia, obedient, weak-willed, and no feminist role model, deserves the most pity of any character in the play.
Hamlet's relationship and actions towards Ophelia are not exempt from his dual personalities. In private, he is deeply devoted to her; but in public, he humiliates and belittles her...
“Pretty Ophelia,” as Claudius calls her, is the most innocent victim of Hamlet’s revenge in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Hamlet has fallen in love with Ophelia after the death of his father. Ophelia “sucked the honey of his music vows” and returned Hamlet’s affection. But when her father had challenged Hamlet’s true intentions, Ophelia could only say: “I do not know, my lord, what I should think.” Ophelia was used to relying on her father’s directions and she was also brought up to be obedient. This allowed her to only accept her father’s views that Hamlet’s attention towards her was only to take advantage of her and to obey her father’s orders not to permit Hamlet to see her again.