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Women In Hamlet Analysis

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By:Tine Ndhlovu
Hamlet 's Conflicting View of Women

INTRODUCTION
Although women do not appear often or say much in Shakespeare 's Hamlet, they constantly are displayed through the motives and actions of the men in the play. The Elizabethan era and the Chain of being in the sixteenth century, may play a part in the play 's tragedy. Hamlet’s conflicted view of women, prevents him from extracting revenge and it leads him to his downfall. Hamlet views women as weak, sexualized, untrustworthy and inferior. Hamlet views women this way, due to the situations that occur around him and the only two women in his life, Gertrude and Ophelia. His focus on his mother 's aging sexual desires, takes his focus away from his initial thought of extracting revenge.
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Which started to appear in his relationship with Ophelia and his views towards all women.
WEAK
In the play, Ophelia and Gertrude 's actions and decisions are influenced by the men in the play. The women depend to a great extent on the men that surround them and are extremely weak, when it comes to them having authority and control over things. Ophelia is powerless, when it comes to the men in her life, she allows them to make decisions for her. When she is told to do something she immediately obeys. With such a desire, Ophelia always feels the need to please others, even when it goes against her moral feelings. For example, when Polonius tells Ophelia, “[f]rom this time, daughter, [b]e somewhat scanter of your maiden presense/[l]ook to’t, I charge you”(1.3.120-135), without hesitation, she says, “ I shall obey, my lord”(Shakespeare 1.3.136) . This shows her lack of power when it comes to men and that she has no rights. In relation, Gertrude is a strong woman, who makes decisions on her own, but she constantly relies on the men around her and is also very passive. Gertrude’s passive personality is seen, when Claudius
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Hamlet views women as sexualized and constantly finds fault with the women in the play, over their sexuality. He continuously brings them up even when there is no specific female he is referring to. With this in mind, Hamlet has a major focus on his mother 's sexual actions. Rather than focussing on Claudius and his father 's murder, he begins to find a greater interest in his mother 's sexuality. Hamlet is so concerned with his mother 's sexual relationship,that he tries to make her aware of her wrongful sexual relationship, by aggressively stating that “[i]n the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, [s]tew’d in corruption, honeying and making love [o]ver the nasty sty”(3.4.94-96). Hamlet is convinced of his mother 's sin, that he tells her about her compulsive sexual odour, that he sees as corruption. Moreover, Hamlet uses sexual innuendo to degrade women through sexual remarks and comments through his thoughts. Hamlet, talks about women in such an inappropriate way, referring to women as a strumpet, which in modern text is a whore, when he says “[i]n the secret parts of fortune? O most true; she is a strumpet”(2.2.234-235). The fact that Hamlet is able to openly talk about women in such a way around his friends and refer to them as whores, shows that he has very little respect for women. In addition, when Ophelia asks Hamlet to sit by her side during The Mousetrap play, he immediately suggest to
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