During the Elizabethan period, the role of women in society was very different from what it is today. According to the system of patriarchal society that dictated that women were inferior to men, they had to obey the male figures in their lives. The woman was seen as the weaker sex either physically or emotionally which meant that it was entirely dependent on her husband if married and members of his family if single. Moreover, in the Elizabethan theater, women were not allowed to play because of this hierarchy. Therefore, they were replaced by men disguised as women. In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, published in 1601, women play a very special role. First, it should be noted that there are only two women in the room: Gertrude and Ophelia. By developing the role
In the play, Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, Prince Hamlet of Denmark, interactions with two women throughout the interplay. Hamlet is rejected and dismissed by both women. His first negative experience is with Gertrude, his heartless whore of a mother. He then attempts to form a relationship with Ophelia, whose weak naive nature demolished any prospect of love. The women in his life influence him into a state of misogyny. He did not innately hate all women, but slowly as he reserved rejection after rejection he snapped. Hamlet’s relationships differed between Gertrude and Ophelia, but both had the same goal of Hamlet having someone to love and care about him. With the goal of compassion being accomplished, he spiralled in a growing hatred of the female population. Hamlet’s misogyny is not the result sexual repression , but rather his environment and the interactions with women.
Hamlet’s dislike of women is shown through his behavior and language toward his mother, Ophelia, and women in general. In the play it is very obvious that he is heartless towards the opposite sex by the actions that he takes and the words that he speaks. During the time that this play was written women were viewed as insignificant human beings. Hamlet found himself having feelings for a woman and he does not know how to portray these feelings because he holds his mother responsible for his inability to love Ophelia.
Feminism has gained a new definition a new understanding of female roles since the Elizabethan Era. Hamlet, a play written by William Shakespeare, is about a young prince, Hamlet, being visited by his father’s apparition urging him to avenge his death by murdering Prince Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius. All the while, Hamlet is enraged by his mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius and is showering his supposed love, Ophelia, with gifts and words of affection. Queen Gertrude and Ophelia are blindly obedient to male authority due to the influence of the social standards that require women to be submissive to men. Queen Gertrude and Ophelia’s actions and outcomes as characters are affected by male influence, the social norms of this time, and the females’ consequences of following these norms.
Throughout Hamlet, the thoughts, intentions, and actions of all of the characters can be explained through predisposed gender roles in the play. Hamlet is a tragedy in which the main character, Hamlet, attempts to seek vengeance for his father’s murder, while the relationships with him and around him begin to strain. In the play, gender plays a huge role in assuming the capability and worth of people. Women are most commonly depicted as being weak, powerless, and confused, while men are commonly shown as being strong, analytical, and intuitive. Hamlet features Ophelia and Gertrude as the only two female roles, and even then they show little independence from the males.
Though any character in Shakespeare's Hamlet could easily be the epitome of lunacy, there is no character more obviously unsound that Ophelia, whose personality is the embodiment of codependency. Every time Ophelia speaks the symptoms are apparent as she can not seem to converse about anything but men. This is stereotypical of women at the time,in society as much as in literature. One can not fully blame Ophelia however as she is a product of her time period and used by the other characters. Ophelia’s character not only confirms Hamlet's suspicions about women but serves as pawn in the metaphorical chess game between Claudius and Hamlet.
It is far too often that women, in even the most modern of literature, are portrayed as nothing more than snivelling cowards, used merely to motivate the inevitably male heroes. Certainly, this is still the case in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which is inarguably a product of its time; sexism runs rampant, as Ophelia, the female lead, is told by Hamlet himself to “Get thee to a nunnery” (3.1.121), with not a batted eye nor consideration of why this would be wrong. In this day and age, such blatant disrespect for women would be greatly frowned upon by a modern and discerning audience, no doubt filled with cultured women who would take offence. Bonham-Carter’s Ophelia is far from the frail and tragically beautiful flower that she is often interpreted as; “ she's like a rag doll losing its stuffings” (Hinson).
In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, we constantly see Hamlet’s negative view of women and harsh treatment towards them. Hamlet’s relationship with his mother, Queen Gertrude, is rocky after she marries her dead husband’s killer and brother, causing tension between her and Hamlet. Hamlet’s view of women is changed at this point in time because of his mother’s actions. This affects the way he treats Ophelia, the woman that he is in love with and that also reciprocates his love towards her. While he wants to continue his relationship with her, he knows it is not best and is afraid of the outcome.
Hamlet: The Tragedy of Female Oppression Feminism has erupted over the past century. The theme of patriarchy has ruled over women for centuries. With the uprising of the critique of patriarchy, more feminists have analyzed Shakespeare’s literary works as in favor of the male gender roles. In Act 1 scene 3, the station of Polonius and Laertes reveals their patriarchal position over Ophelia by constructing advices that molds their expectations of her and degrading her in ways that exemplify the oppression of women during the 1600’s.
For the duration of the play, Ophelia was portrayed as a naïve and submissive woman. Her passivity and powerlessness reinforce the voicelessness of women during the Elizabethan era. For example, “I shall obey, my lord” (I.iii.134) shows that Ophelia concedes to her father’s will, even though she believes Hamlet’s love is genuine. She is willing and expected to obey her father despite the fact that she still loves Hamlet, which emphasizes her character’s submissive nature. Furthermore, in Act I Laertes warns Ophelia that it would be shameful of her to love Hamlet, and she responds with “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as a watchman to my heart” (I.iii.45). She is assuring Laertes that she will remain obedient and follow his advice.
Women have suffered an extreme misdeed by men throughout the history. Women in Shakespearean times were bounded with their husbands and their fathers, the women weren’t expected to do much rather that just looking pretty and not talking. In the play Hamlet women are mistreated and are shown in Shakespeare novel. There are women that have experienced exploitation in the novel. Hamlet poor mistreatment and misjudgment of Ophelia, her behavior started to change throughout the novel and eventually she ended up killing herself. Gertrude whose husband passed away recently in the beginning of the novel, she quickly married her brother-in-law. Hamlet in deep sorrow over his father death but even more heard broken over his mother re-marriage which drove
Throughout the play is Hamlet quite spiteful toward women. Some would say to a misogynistic extent. He orders Ophelia, for example, to "go to a nunnery" and tells his mother, Gertrude, "frailty, thy name is woman" even though Hamlet is not very strong willed person. He is always split between his decisions and can never make up his mind. Hamlet is not a solid character with a clear path to achieve his goal. The irony; Hamlet as prince of Denmark has power to make his decisions but fails by contrast the women presumably the people with the least power make powerful decisions.
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.
William Shakespeare was well versed in the English language, whether it be poetry or playwrights. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and Hamlet are playwrights that entail odd, but heavy struggles for both characters. Using Brutus’s and Hamlet’s interaction with their female counterparts, their thirst for vengeance, and specific character traits, Shakespeare develops two tragic heroes of different time periods. When comparing and contrasting Brutus and Hamlet it is important to note their interactions with women within the play. Both Hamlet and Brutus have significant female influences throughout each of their stories.