Female Characters in "Hamlet"

4091 Words Mar 20th, 2013 17 Pages
Introduction

Shakespearean tragedy is a story of one, or at most two persons. As a rule, they are male protagonists. But to say that Shakespeare’s female characters are shallow, undeveloped and used just as a decoration on the stage is very wrong. Women in Shakespeare’s tragedies have no leading role and they are, to paraphrase Northrop Frye,[1] not tragic heroines, but heroines in a tragedy.

All female characters in Shakespeare’s tragedies have one thing in common – they end up dead. It is always an untimely, unnatural death. This rule (rather than coincidence) is a theme of many debates among philologists, critics, psychologists, psychiatrists and philosophers.

As Hamlet is one of the most reflective Shakespeare’s plays, the
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She had lost her mother, and has only a father and a brother, affectionate by worldly, to take care of her. To the persons in the play, she brings the thought of flowers. Laertes names her 'Rose of May', as he prays at her burial and the Queen murmurs 'Sweets to the sweet', as she scatters flowers on the grave.

Some scholars believe that Ophelia's name - which means 'succor' in Greek, a seemingly inappropriate designation for so victimized a character - may have been used in error instead of Aphelia, meaning 'simplicity' or 'innocence'. Both names were rare in Shakespeare's time.

Ultimately, Ophelia’s insanity is the consequence of the actions of others, and she is unquestionably a victim of the tragic events that beset Denmark throughout the play. [5]

Ophelia and male characters in “Hamlet” Ophelia's affection for her brother is shown in two or three delicate strokes. Her love for her father is deep, though mingled with fear. For Hamlet she has, some say, no deep love - and perhaps she is so near childhood that old affections have still the strongest hold; but certainly she has given to Hamlet all the love which her nature is yet capable. Beyond these three beloved ones she seems to have eyes and ears for no one. Her existence is wrapped up in these three.

On this childlike nature and on Ophelia's inexperience everything depends. Her father and brother are jealously anxious for her because of her ignorance and innocence; and we resent
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