Shakespeare’s Hamlet through a Feminist’s Eye

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The norm today in western culture is mostly comprised of patriarchal figures rather than matriarchal. The bias based around women and the higher authority of men is most entirely related to the feminist theory. When thinking about the feminist theory, the main issues that are recognized are the imbalances in power between the two sexes and how misogyny can be represented through literature. From William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, misogyny is featured multiple times throughout William Shakespeare’s creation of characters. Misogyny is revealed through Hamlet Jr, Polonius and Gertrude.

Shakespeare uses Hamlet’s character to display misogyny and patriarchal views throughout the play multiple times. Hamlet first shows disrespect towards women during his soliloquy. After Hamlet is questioned on his views towards the new idea of his father’s death and his true feelings towards this situation, Hamlet states “Why, she would hang on him/ As if increase of appetite had grown/ By what it fed on, and yet within a month-/ Let me not think on’t; frailty, thy name is woman!” (I, ii, 143-146). Here, Hamlet shows his lack of respect towards woman due to the fact that it has been ruined by his mother’s ill-advised remarriage to her dead husband’s brother. In Hamlet’s soliloquy Hamlet states the fact that his mother is weak within her recent decisions and that she cannot be forgiven for being as frail and vulnerable as every other woman. In this soliloquy it is obvious to the reader that Shakespeare has made Hamlet’s character condescending and hateful towards anything related to women’s rights. Hamlet proceeds to display sexist views while he speaks to Ophelia saying that “God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. You jig, you amble,...

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...ontinues on with the plan to reveal Hamlet’s madness. Thirdly, Polonius’ character proves to show antifeminist characteristics when he condescendingly warns Ophelia of her relationship with Hamlet and her naïveté towards him. Polonius says to Ophelia “From this time/ Be something scanter of your maiden presence. / Set your entreatments at a higher rate/ Than a command to parle. / For Lord Hamlet, / believe so much in him that he is young, / and with a larger tether may he walk/ Than may be given you.” (I, iii, 121-127). Within this passage towards Ophelia, Polonius speaks to Ophelia as if she is unable to think for her own self. This proves to show that Shakespeare has made Ophelia appear to be a naïve character due to the fact that she is a young woman, compared to Laertes whom is allowed to do as he wishes without fault.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet
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