A Comparison Of Ophelia And Gertrude In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet there are many male characters, but the only two significant female characters are Ophelia and Gertrude. Ophelia is the daughter of Polonius, a high ranking official in the court in Denmark who serves as a love interest and an object of desire for Hamlet, although it is often unclear which at many point during the play. Gertrude is the wife of King Claudius, the widow of the former king, King Hamlet, and the mother of Hamlet. In Hamlet the women often appear as if they do not have a significant role in the play. However, Ophelia’s interactions with Hamlet exaggerate his apparent madness and by being a foil to Hamlet. Gertrude’s purpose in the play is to increase Hamlet’s anger towards Claudius through their marriage while trying to mediate tensions between Hamlet and Claudius. …show more content…

This is encapsulated in Hamlet exclaims, “frailty, thy name is woman!” about his mother’s hasty marriage to her deceased husband’s brother (Shakespeare 1.2.150). In this quote, Hamlet is dismissing all women as weak-willed like he believes Gertrude to be, which affects his interactions with Ophelia also. Hamlet is cruel to her because of this anger he has towards women in general, so when pretending to be mad, he goes “full force in the misogynist rage” when telling her he used to love her, but now she should go to a nunnery (Traub 192). Ophelia can be seen as weak in this scene because she protests little against Hamlet and only hopes that his insanity will end. These crude comments Hamlet says to Ophelia continue throughout the play until Ophelia is being buried when Hamlet asserts that he loved Ophelia. The male character’s treatment of Ophelia and Gertrude make them appear to be ineffectual

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