For A Majority Of History, Societies Have Often Positioned

1266 WordsApr 15, 20176 Pages
For a majority of history, societies have often positioned men on a higher pedestal than women. This inequitable arrangement has regrettably caused men en masse to treat women, especially their wives, as their own personal property rather than people. In one of William Shakespeare’s more well known works, Hamlet, one of the main female characters, Ophelia, has a life that is unfortunately no different; she has been objectified by not only the society she was born into, but also the men in her life. The key aspect of this essay discusses how the discriminatory and bigoted treatment by the male figures in Ophelia’s life inevitably leads to her subsequent insanity and death as a way for her to finally become a sovereign woman in a repressive…show more content…
To make a good match, Elizabethan women were expected to hold values such as “...patience, chastity, reticence, humbleness, modesty, faithfulness, self-control, goodness, sympathy, and compassion.” (Ahsan 12); Men, however, could themselves be “...drunkards, womanizers, gamblers…” (Ahsan 12) and still be able to find dutiful wives. Another subject in which men and women of this era had different experiences with is premarital sex. There would be no consequences for a man if he chose to have sex before marriage because it was seen as “...a mild offense and pardonable for men.” (Smith 99). And yet, if a woman chose to have premarital sex, her life would practically be ruined because “...their value as commodities decreases enormously if they are thought to be unchaste…” (Smith 100). This double standard between the genders in the Elizabethan era shows that women led a much more confined life than men. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the character of Ophelia is objectified and subjected to the inhibitory rules that the Elizabethan era placed on women, especially those of the noble classes. Since her birth, Ophelia was taught to be completely obedient to any male figure in her life because “men related to women in any sense, i.e. fathers, brothers, or husbands were allowed to decide all matters related to their lives…” (Ahsan 12). Ophelia knows that devoted daughters “...obeyed and surrendered to
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