Patriarchal Roles In Hamlet Essay

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Patriarchal Roles in Shakespeare Plays William Shakespeare was a famous playwright during the 1500s and was notorious for including themes and literary devices in his plays. The mistreatment of women was rampant in the 1500s and it reflects in Shakespeare’s works. Shakespeare displayed this topic effectively, the biggest examples being Ophelia from Hamlet and Hero in Much Ado About Nothing. Both women are mistreated horribly by men in the plays. The play Hamlet was set in Denmark, focusing mainly on the protagonist Hamlet. His father, King Hamlet, had died and his uncle Claudius took over the throne and remarried Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet was depressed by this, contemplating suicide frequently and taking his anger out on women. He scolded his…show more content…
According to CliffsNotes, she did not have a mother figure; therefore, she was completely under the rule of men the entire play. For example, Polonius demanded that she stopped seeing Hamlet, which she replied with, “I shall obey, my lord.” Her brother warned her not to pursue premarital relations with Hamlet as well, telling her that no man would want a “deflowered” woman. She did exactly what she was told; Ophelia listened to her family about avoiding Hamlet and became a device for Polonius’s plans to spy on Hamlet. However; Hamlet knew that Ophelia was helping her dad spy on him, and he “accused her of (and all women) of being a ‘breeder of sinners’ and orders Ophelia to a ‘nunnery’"(Shmoop Editorial Team). Despite her obedience to her family, Ophelia was torn between two roles: being a good daughter or falling for Hamlet’s promise of marriage. She was sure that Hamlet loved her. Unfortunately, this feeling faded as soon as Hamlet began insulting her crudely and driving her to insanity. “To Hamlet, she is a sexual object, a corrupt and deceitful lover” ("Character Analysis: Ophelia"). After all of the pressure that was put on Ophelia, she snapped and went insane “as a result of patriarchal pressure and abuse” (Shmoop Editorial Team). Shakespeare brilliantly uses her death as a metaphor for the misogynistic binds that broke her. When she dies, the reader is told she died from drowning. Ophelia's clothing had…show more content…
When she was being courted, she was aware of Don Pedro pursuing her for Claudio. According to CliffsNotes, she simply took Leonato's guidance to accept “Claudio”’s (Don Pedro's) proposal. She did feel attraction towards Claudio, but she mainly followed her father’s advice. She was not really thinking for her own. Hero did not really have a backbone either, especially when Claudio falsely accused her of disloyalty. She fainted instead of standing up for herself, leading to her own father saying, “O Fate! take not away thy heavy hand. Death is the fairest cover for her shame…”, implying she would have been better off dead than to have been a shameful daughter. The friar did have a solution; play dead and hope it guilt tripped Claudio. Since she did not “defend herself violently enough to inspire anyone to really question Claudio’s claims”, Hero had to resort to deceiving tactics given to her by the friar. She didn’t come up with her own, potentially better solution or try to prove her innocence; she only listened to what men told her. It was by sheer luck she was proven innocent when Borachio, a conspirerer, was caught and fessed up to Don John’s treachery. In addition, when she went to remarry Claudio, she is masked and under the guise of being Leonato’s niece. When Leonato offered Claudio to marry his “niece”, there was no option for the “niece” to deny the marriage. It would have been an arranged
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