The Role Of Women In Hamlet

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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…show more content…
Ophelia’s favorite line throughout the play appears to be “ I shall obey, my lord” (1.4.136), even when she does not agree with what she is being told to do or say. Her actions throughout the play are often greatly shaped by the thoughts and wishes of the men in her life such as Hamlet, Polonius and Laertes. During the second act of the play, Ophelia expresses her concern for Hamlet’s growing madness and decides to speak to Polonius about the situation. When Polonius questions if she has had contact with him, she explains that she has not and that “ as he did command/ [she] did repel his letters and denied/ His access to [her]” (2.2.109-111). It is undeniably evident that Ophelia is forced by Polonius to keep away from Hamlet, even though she enjoys spending time with him and explains that, “ [Hamlet], of late made many tenders/ of His affection to [her]” (1.3.100-101). This situation is an unquestionable display of Ophelia’s limited power to make her own decisions. Subsequently, in act 2.2, Polonius and Claudius decide to use Ophelia to provoke Hamlet. Polonius once again limits her ability to make her own decisions as he decides that he will “ loose [his] daughter to [Hamlet]” (2.2.162), and does ask Ophelia if she is willing to complete the task, but rather tells her she is going to. By…show more content…
The first evident occurrence of ambiguity in the play is whether or not Gertrude knows that Claudius murdered Hamlet Sr. During her discussion with Hamlet, there is no clear evidence to prove that she did or did not know. Gertrude appears to be very heartbroken by the information being relayed to her by Hamlet as she explains that “[the] words like daggers enter in [her] ears” (3.4.98), and “turn’st [her] eyes into [her] very soul” (3.4.91). Gertrude 's reaction to the news leaves undeniable room for questions as she could be feeling this guilt because she does know what Claudius did, or because she has been blinded by Claudius’ charm and married him after all he had done to his own family. The answer is left completely to the reader 's interpretation. In continuance, when Gertrude confides in Claudius about what she had spoken to Hamlet about, it is unclear if she truly believes he is as “mad as the sea and wind when both contend” (4.1.7), or if she is simply obeying her sons wishes. She does not have any soliloquies or side comments that could help the readers to interpret her inner thoughts. Therefore, it is absolutely an ambiguous situation as there is no evidence to thoroughly support either of the possible thoughts she could have. Finally, readers are left with questions and curiosities in regards to Gertrude 's true reason
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