People have mostly seen women inferior to men because women have been thought of as simple-minded and could not take care of themselves. Shakespeare’s Hamlet shows how men treated and thought of women during the 1500s. There was an order most did not interfere with; however, some did. In the 1500s, women were supposed to conform to men’s wishes. Throughout the play, Ophelia first obeyed her father and brother’s wishes, ignored the social norms later, and then went mad, which caused her to never gain her own identity.
To stay in control, the men in Hamlet taught Ophelia to fear her every day, natural thoughts causing her not to think for herself. Gabrielle Dane's article, "Reading Ophelia's Madness," discusses Polonius and Laertes retarding Ophelia's identity. Dane writes, "Both brother and father smother Ophelia in an incestuous strangle-hold, each the self-appointed tutor of her moral, intellectual, even psychological development" (407). Ophelia's father and brother telling her what to think only hurts her development instead of helping it in the long run. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia looks to others for answers because she does not possess her own thoughts. Shakespeare shows how Polonius responds to Ophelia when she says she does not know what to think:
POL. Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?
OPH. I do not know, my lord, what should I think?
POL. Marry, I'll teach you. Think yourself a baby. (1.3.103-5)
Ophelia has lost all ability to think for herself. Conclusion.
During Hamlet, Polonius and Laertes use Ophelia for their own self-gain not taking her feelings in consideration. In the article “Jephthah's Daughter's Daughter: Ophelia,” Cameron Hunt reveals that Polonius disregards Ophelia’s wants for his ...
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Campbell, Erin E. “‘Sad Generations Seeking Water’: The Social Construction of Madness in O(Phelia) And Q(Uentin Compson).” Faulkner Journal 20.1/2 (2004): 53-70. Literary Reference Center. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.
Corum, Richard. Understanding Hamlet: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport: Greenwood, 1998. Print. Literature in Context.
Dane, Gabrielle. “Reading Ophelia’s Madness.” Exemplaria 10.2 (1998): 405-423. Literary Reference Center. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Fischer, Sandra K. "Hearing Ophelia: Gender and Tragic Discourse in Hamlet." Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme 26.1 (2009): 1-10. 5 Feb. 2014.
Hunt, Cameron. “Jephthah’s Daughter’s Daughter: Ophelia.” Anq 22.4 (2009): 13-16. Literary Reference Center. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: Dover, 1992. Print.