Essay on The Role of Women in Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Play

Essay on The Role of Women in Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Play

Length: 2037 words (5.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Role of Women in Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Play

Gertrude and Ophelia, the only two women in Hamlet, reflect the
general status of women in Elizabethan Times. Women were suppressed by
the males in their lives (brothers, fathers, and partners) and were
always inferior. Ophelia and Gertrude have little or no power due to
restricted legal, social and economic rights that were found in
Elizabethan society. The male characters in Hamlet reflect this sexist
view point, represented by Hamlet’s judgement that “frailty, thy name
is woman”. This view was not uncommon in Shakespeare’s time and
heavily influenced Shakespeare to present women the way he does in
Hamlet. In a critical essay, Judith Cook[1] noted that in many of
Shakespeare’s plays major women characters ‘die because of direct
association with the fate of a tragic hero’. This could be seen as
Shakespeare trying to convey women’s fate being a ‘by-product’ of the
fate of men- men are superior.

On the other hand, Ophelia is crucial in understanding Hamlet as a
character and gives an insight into different motifs of the play. Some
may argue that Ophelia is one of the causes of Hamlet’s ‘madness’ and
his recoil from love. The reaction Hamlet has to Ophelia, at the play
for example, allows us to watch Hamlet’s disintegration- he is crude
and sexually offensive towards Ophelia which allows us to see the way
Hamlet is changing throughout the play.

Gertrude is also arguably crucial in displaying motifs of the play.
Hamlet sees his mother as a representation of how weak and frail women
are-she is the reason he views women in this way. This shapes Hamlet’s
opinion of women dur...

... middle of paper ...

...Women, Madness and the Responsibilites of
Feminist Criticism’ page 113 in Martine Coyle (ed) ‘New Case Books:
Contemporary Critical Essays” (C Palgrave 1992)

[3] Elaine Showalter ‘Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness and the
Responsibilites of Feminist Criticism’ page 114 in Martine Coyle (ed)
‘New Case Books: Contemporary Critical Essays” (C Palgrave 1992)

[4] Vieda Skultans, ‘English Madness: Ideas on Insanity 1580-1890’
(London, 1997) in Elaine Showalter ‘Representing Ophelia: Women,
Madness and the Responsibilites of Feminist Criticism’ page 118 in
Martine Coyle (ed) ‘New Case Books: Contemporary Critical Essays” (C
Palgrave 1992)

[5] Rebecca Smith, ‘A Heart Cleft in Twain: The Dilemma of
Shakespeare’s Gertrude’ page 82 in Martine Coyle (ed) ‘New Case Books:
Contemporary Critical Essays” (C Palgrave 1992)

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Hamlet, By William Shakespeare Essays

- To be, or not to be, that is the question. To live, or not to live…that is the “question” in this play, Hamlet which is written by William Shakespeare, that plays a big role, such as when there seemed to be a tension between Hamlet and Horatio at the beginning of the play, especially towards the end where a strong friendship that occurred is tested. Also, finding out and being able to trust what we now call a “bff” (best friend forever) is easy for this current generation, but for Hamlet, it was not as easy....   [tags: Hamlet, William Shakespeare, Death, Friendship]

Powerful Essays
1249 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare 's ' Hamlet '

- Our personal response to William Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ (1603) is informed by our knowledge of the composer’s contextual and political milieu which aids to highlight aspects of the human condition which permeate not only Elizabethan England but also that within our modern context. Shakespeare utilises a variety of dramatic and language techniques, to delve deeply into elements of human nature, thus through the play’s textual integrity, Shakespeare is able to strike a chord with contemporary audiences as we too consider the perilous nature of human attributes such as deception, corruption, and mortality....   [tags: Hamlet, Prince Hamlet, William Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
1197 words (3.4 pages)

Essay about William Shakespeare 's ' Hamlet '

- 'Hamlet ', one of William Shakespeare longest and finest piece of literary work. Hamlets play hones in on characteristics such as, sadness, madness, insanity, morbidity, and mortality. While many scenes depict many of these characteristic’s if not more than one, Act 5 Scene 1 is renownedly known for exhibiting all five of these characteristics in just a few paragraphs. With Shakespeare’s writing technique imagery, repletion, and metaphors expressed throughout this scene, it allows for the reader to receive a clear image of what is going through Hamlets mind....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, William Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
721 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about Analysis Of Shakespeare 's Hamlet By William Shakespeare

- During the time period between the 14th and 17th centuries, a cultural revolution, known as the Renaissance, took place. One of the topics of this cultural revolution that is widely controversial is the role and treatment of women. The play Hamlet by William Shakespeare features many characters that are perceived as strong, independent leads, such as King Claudius, and Polonius. However, in the same work, Shakespeare also composes characters of lesser strength and independence. The character that seems to fall victim to this view of weakness and foolishness is the female character, Ophelia....   [tags: Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude, Hamlet]

Powerful Essays
1418 words (4.1 pages)

Hamlet, By William Shakespeare Essay

- In most of William shakespeare 's plays the theme of tragedy is well emphasized. In his play Hamlet, this theme of tragedy has been observed again. The protagonist, Hamlet faces many dilemmas that lead him to undergo many transformations in his personality such as: before the stress of avenging his father he disliked the relationship of the queen and Claudius but after he was introduced with this duty he turned his dislike into the feeling of vengeance towards Claudius, He pursued his burden by acting insane but, later on this acting deeply impacts his nervous system and forces his sanity to lose control....   [tags: Hamlet, William Shakespeare, Characters in Hamlet]

Powerful Essays
1199 words (3.4 pages)

Hamlet By William Shakespeare 's Play Essay

- Hamlet Written Role play (Enter Ophelia) Ophelia: “Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, the perfume and suppliance of a minute. No more.” Oh blah, blah, blah. What does he know. He speaks of Hamlet as if he is the one spending countless hours with him. Does he know the affectionate gestures of love that Hamlet displays. No. Does he read the beautifully passionate letters that Hamlet writes to me. No. Then who is he to judge our love. Who is he to say it will not last. Oh and I cannot even begin with father; he is no better than Laertes, in fact, that is where Laertes gets it from....   [tags: Characters in Hamlet, Hamlet, Gertrude, Ghost]

Powerful Essays
1074 words (3.1 pages)

Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

- Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Shakespeare's Hamlet is a tale of mortal revenge, lost souls, love and infidelity, and murder in the royal family. Hamlet, his father having recently died, is mourning the marriage of his mother to his uncle. When his father's ghost appears to him and tells him he must avenge the former king's spirit so that it may pass on to Heaven, he decides to put on an "antic disposition" so that no one will know what he is thinking. As time goes by, he cannot move himself to act upon his revenge and is tormented by his indecisiveness and ineptitude....   [tags: Hamlet William Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
1503 words (4.3 pages)

Significance of the Ghost to William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

- Significance of the Ghost to William Shakespeare's Hamlet In Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', the ghost plays a key role in influencing the destinies of the other characters. The ghost is important to the play as it symbolizes both fate and catalyses the plot. It also brings the play into the revenge tragedy genre, which allows foreshadowing to occur and helps the audience, both Elizabethan and contemporary to better understand the play and appreciate it. The late King Hamlet is forced to roam the earth as he was murdered before he could confess to his sins, having to remain in purgatory till his sins are washed from him and he is able to enter into heaven....   [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet]

Powerful Essays
1576 words (4.5 pages)

Hamlet's Relationships with Women in Hamlet by William Shakespeare Essay

- Hamlet's Relationships with Women in Hamlet by William Shakespeare When reading Hamlet it becomes clear right from the beginning that Hamlet has a deep relationship with his mother, Gertrude, because he loves and respects her so much. In the opening scene we can see Hamlet and Gertrude engaged in tender, loving behaviour. But as the play develops we see this relationship suffer some great dents. Gertrude?s role in Hamlet is to show us how Hamlets insanity develops, her actions are a big part of what drives Hamlet mad....   [tags: Papers William Shakespeare Hamlet Essays]

Powerful Essays
691 words (2 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare's Hamlet

- William Shakespeare's Hamlet Shakespeare’s works are rife with metatheatrical self-references; as Polonius blathers on about madness early in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Gertrude ends the excessive bombast with the quip, “More matter with less art” (Hamlet, II.i.97). Shakespeare mocks his own poetic form and that of his classical influences with this line, yet his plays are full of lyricism. However, the Greek and Roman texts Shakespeare studied as a boy as well as those of his contemporaries are so full of “art,” (meaning that they emphasize form over content) that they are often considered by the masses as arcane....   [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet Essays]

Powerful Essays
3617 words (10.3 pages)