Essay about Female Characters Throughout The Play Hamlet By William Shakespeare

Essay about Female Characters Throughout The Play Hamlet By William Shakespeare

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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 of the male characters around them and finally, the readers of the play are left with several ambiguities about the female characters’ thoughts and beliefs regarding the situations that occur in the play.
The limitation of power a female has in making her own decisions is a substantial issue that women are continually forced to deal with, and is an issue well displayed throughout the play. 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 denie...


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...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 behind drinking the wine laced with a poisonous pearl. After Claudius insists that Gertrude does not drink from the cup, she responds by saying, “ I will, my lord, I pray you pardon me” (5.2.293). After a few moments she exclaims, “The drink, the drink! I am poisoned” (5.3.313), and then dies. The readers are not given insight as t if she knows that the drink is poisoned or not. The ambiguity in this scene is unquestionably whether she drank the wine to celebrate her son or to protect him. In conclusion William Shakespeare never allows Gertrude to inform the readers about what she knows or how she is really feeling and consequently, readers are left to interpret the situations in their own way.

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