Tragic Patriarchy In Macbeth And Othello

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Tragic Patriarchy (An analysis of Shakespeare’s treatment of women in his four tragic plays, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello) During the Shakespearean era, women were a little bit like property. They were owned by their fathers, and then handed over to their husband to be owned by him. They dedicated their lives to serving men and acting according to their will. This notion of the transfer of custody from a father to a husband is still practiced in today’s society in many forms. However, there is a great difference from then and now in the way in which women are able to pursue their own interests and goals. In Shakespeare’s time, women were not even allowed to act in his famous plays. Instead, these roles would be taken on by boys,…show more content…
Hamlet describes vividly his disgust for his mother, Gertrude, in his first soliloquy in the first act of this play. The queen has just remarried to her deceased husband’s brother, Claudius, in a short amount of time. Enraged by this rash decision of the queen’s, Hamlet shouts, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (Shakespeare). Hamlet drives himself crazy mourning over his mother’s decision to marry Claudius. In a way, Shakespeare is implying that when women are allowed to make their own decisions and do what they want, it never results in anything beneficial. Gertrude chose her new king and in the process contributed immensely to the downfall of her son, Hamlet. On the other hand, Ophelia, Hamlet’s lover, is the perfect model for a young lady in those days. When her father advises her to steer clear of Hamlet, she immediately obeys him. She does what she is told, not questioning why, but accepting that that is the way that things are to be. Though gaining the approval of her father and others who believe in the patriarchal system, Ophelia makes herself extremely vulnerable by doing this. It’s almost as if she is begging someone to manipulate her, which is exactly what happens. “The king, queen, and Polonius continue their plan of uncovering the reason for Hamlet's madness by using Ophelia as a decoy” (Wright). In the end, by obeying her family…show more content…
These two evil sisters disobey their father in everything, and put on a face when he asks who loves him the most because they are simply greedy and want his land for themselves. “I am made of the self-same metal that my sister, and prize me at her worth. In my true heart I find she names my very deed of love; Only she comes too short, that I profess myself an enemy to all other joys which the most precious square of sense possesses, and find I am alone felicitate in your dear Highness' love” (Shakespeare). Here, Regan explains her true love for her father as opposed to the half-hearted love that Goneril has for him. As the two sisters fight over who loves their father more, they demonstrate to the audience that they are selfish and manipulative. They take advantage of their father’s old age and use their words to get gain for themselves. They do the exact opposite of what daughters are supposed to do during those times. “The representation of patriarchal misogyny is most obvious in the treatment of Goneril and Regan...Goneril’s and Regan’s treatment of their father...is seen...as a fundamental violation of human nature” (Bruce). God was most powerful, followed by men, who were followed by women. For these two daughters to take treat their father the way they do in this play is a dramatic shift in everything natural. By creating these two evil sisters, Shakespeare

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