In the past, women were seen as mothers and housekeepers, always taught to respect, listen, and serve their husbands or the man of the house. In those days, this was considered normal, therefore women had no choice but to obey and do as they were told. In Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays a similar relationship between women and men. He allows men to hold the higher position, causing them to treat women as lesser people and believed that women should listen to them and do as they were told. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, women are characterized as weak and submissive and as obedient and compliant.
There are only two female characters in this play – Gertrude; the Queen, and Ophelia; Hamlet’s love interest. The two both play a passive role in the play’s action, but they are extremely important in exposing the play’s themes – in particular Hamlet’s misogyny. Gertrude impresses us a woman who is dependent on men. She lives in the shadow of two kings. Her first husband – Old Hamlet was murdered and yet “within a month”, she married her brother-in-law, Claudius. Claudius and Gertrude make an unlikely couple to an audience aware of the former’s deceit. It would appear that their marriage is obtained for convenience rather than love.
Gertrude is completely unaware that the man she married is the murderer of her first husband. It has been suggested that Gertrude only married Claudius for the good of the state. One would therefore think that she is an apt queen – even Claudius says that she is “The imperial jointress to this war like state. ”(Act 1, Scene 2 pg. 10).
... because men constantly have to make women happy in order to maintain a stable relationship with them. Throughout the play, Hamlet s view of Gertrude ... Old Hamlet thinks that Gertrude was never in love with him and the second he died she quickly decided to marry Claudius and ... act 3 sc. 4, Hamlet is telling Gertrude the truth and compares two pictures of Old Hamlet and Claudius. He makes realize how much ...
However, Gertrude does little to prove this statement. She is too weak to challenge Claudius and is most certainly not his equal. Gertrude’s role as the Queen of Denmark is overshadowed and undermines by Claudius’ deceit and treachery. Shakespeare uses Gertrude to show the faithlessness of women.
There are suggestions that Gertrude and Claudius had a relationship even when Old Hamlet was still alive. In his soliloquy, Hamlet expresses his disdain towards his mother “to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets. ” (Act 1, Scene 2. pg. 11).
This is said even before the Ghost appears and when the Ghost of Old Hamlet does appear, he confirms this – saying that Claudius “won by lustful sin, the heart of my most seeming virtuous queen. ” (Act 1, Scene V. pg. 24).
These words not only highlight the faithlessness and shallowness of Gertrude, but they are also important in expressing Hamlet’s and possibly Shakespeare’s misogyny.
Women are characterized in a one dimensional manner – they cannot live without a man and constantly need one in their lives. Gertrude’s “o’er hasty marriage” to Claudius exemplifies this. Gertrude’s passivity in action is what allows her to be dominated and controlled by the men in her life, but she is also somewhat ignorant and oblivious to her surroundings. According to Hamlet, she played the part of the grieving widow well – “she followed my poor father’s body, like Niobe, all tears. ” (Act 1, Scene 2. pg 11).
However, because she got over her husband’s death so soon, she also expects Hamlet to do the same.
As a queen, Gertrude is ineffectual and as a mother, she is insensitive and blind to her son’s distress. She asks Hamlet; “why seems it so particular with thee? ” to which he replies “seems madam, nay it is, I know not seems”. Gertrude cannot understand why Hamlet persists with his saddened demeanour and agrees with Claudius when he says “tis unmanly grief”. Gertrude lets her own opinion of Hamlet’s mental state be influenced by Claudius. This displays her inability to think for herself. She is led by Claudius and shows no independent thought. Gertrude’s role as a loving mother to Hamlet is therefore; warped.
Women and Men Communicate Differently The process of neo-Liberal dogmas, such as celebration of diversity and elimination of sexism, being showed up peoples throats, brought about a situation, when employment policies correspond less and less to the objective reality of interaction between genders at workplace. Men and women are expected to execute their professional duties with the same ...
It would appear that she puts her own pleasures before Hamlet’s welfare. However, Gertrude’s redeeming feature is her tendency for goodness. She is by no means calculating – unlike her husband and indeed her son. None of Gertrude’s actions are premeditated, so it seems rather fitting that she dies drinking from the poison chalice – completely unaware of that is in it. Through her death, Gertrude highlights the position of women within this tragedy – completely obedient and totally oblivious to the corruption around them. Ophelia, like Gertrude is a woman who is led and controlled by the men in her life.
She is described by her brother Laertes as “a sweet sister and a kind maid”. Ophelia’s primary role is to showcase Hamlet’s warped view of women. Ophelia a young women, she represents how women are treated. Ophelia obeys several different men in the play. Ophelia is sixteen much younger than Hamlet. Ophelia is a woman who has been taught to believe and listen to men such as her father. When she is now faced with whether to believe Hamlet or doubt his love for she once again disregards her feelings and trusts Hamlet. Hamlet pursued Ophelia, he saw a young woman whom he could satisfy himself with.
In the play, Hamlet does not court ophelia, the only place they are together is in Ophelia’s bedroom “He hath, my lord, of late made tenders Of his affection to me. “(Act 1, Scene 3. pg 17).
Hamlet visits her bedroom at night and makes love to her. Ophelia believes this is a relationship but is too young to know what a real relationship is. Hamlet writes her letters to make her believe that letters are a representation of Love. Everything that Hamlet wanted from Ophelia he received. She stops thinking for herself and allows men to think for her.
She also allows Hamlet to “make love to her” because Hamlet wishes to do so. This shows a great deal of power amongst men. However, to an audience, Ophelia is a completely innocent and obedient young woman. Out of all the characters in the play, she is the one who cast in the most one dimensional manner. Ophelia has the potential to be a tragic heroine, to overcome her father’s control and gain Hamlet’s love, but due to her submission and conformity, she is merely tragic. Shakespeare uses Ophelia to portray the fickleness of women. As Polonius’ daughter, Ophelia is extremely obedient.
Hamlet: Man of Action or ah A Man Not of Action? When Hamlet receives his order for revenge from the ghost of his dead father, he is shocked and outraged. He vows to avenge his father by the death of Claudius. However, the following scenes do not show the undying dedication to the avengement of a father, but the unproductive meandering of a man unsure, a reluctant son. When compared to the actions ...
When he tells her not to speak to Hamlet anymore, she obliges, saying “I shall obey my lord”. Her inexperience and inability to defend herself is evident when Laertes tells her that Hamlet is “subject to his birth” and for that reason alone, she could never be with Hamlet. Ophelia resigns and accepts these harsh ‘truths’ because she is simply too weak to stand up to any man, or challenge their authority. She, like Gertrude, is constantly undermined and controlled by the men of the play. There are recurring tones of misogyny throughout the play and Ophelia’s acceptance; combined with Hamlet’s maltreatment of her showcases this.
Hamlet’s innuendos are lost on Ophelia, who passes them off as harmless remarks, for she knows that she cannot possibly rebuke a king. In saying that, it leaves us wondering whether or not she may simply just be confused by Hamlet’s sudden change of character. He uses throaty language when speaking to her, saying “Get thee to a nunnery, why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? ” (Act 3, Scene 1. pg 55).
This is a grossly offensive remark to the “sweet and innocent Ophelia”, but she simply agrees to do as Hamlet tells her.
She possesses no strength of character to stand her ground and instead, Ophelia plays a passive and obedient role. It is notable that Gertrude – a woman announces Ophelia’s death, clearing women’s ability to empathise with each other. Ophelia kills herself because of the men in her life – her father is dead and her love for Hamlet is unrequited. She cannot function without a man and therefore, is driven to insanity. Gertrude’s elegiacal speech on Ophelia’s death highlights the frailty of women and portrays the sorrow of her death. Sweets for the sweet”, she says, as she places flowers on Ophelia’s coffin. Ophelia’s association with nature – the flowers, the willow tree in the lake, all display “a young maiden” who was pure, virtuous and fatally innocent. The women of Shakespeare’s Hamlet are characterised as weak and ineffectual. They submit to their male counterparts and are led by them. Both Ophelia and Gertrude are fiercely obedient, as they are controlled by the men in their lives. They play passive roles in the play, but are key to exposing the nominal character’s distorted view of a woman.
The short one-act play Trifles by Susan Gla spell, was years ahead of its time. Its time was 1916 but the subject matter is timeless. The aspect of this play that most caught my interest was the contrast between the men and women characters. This is a play written in the early 1900 s but transcends time periods and cultures. This play has many strengths and few weaknesses, but helps to provide a ...