Shakespeare’s tragic Hamlet depicts a society ruled by a patriarchal power structure with a strong influence on female norms. Both Ophelia and Queen Gertrude reject their established and internalized norms of the society they live in, creating chaos for both as individuals and society as a whole. Their ability to create such upheaval within their society relates in accordance to the amount of power they each hold within their traditional power structure; in a traditional reading of Hamlet, Ophelia and Gertrude lack such power as persons who find protection within the established system. However, Shakespeare is ultimately sympathetic to the women of the play, depicting their downfalls as a direct result of the men in the play. Ophelia is characterized as the embodiment of cherished femininity in Shakespeare’s Hamlet; she thrives within the protective walls of a system that protects her, yet challenges the power structure through her own agency. In Hamlet’s society, the ideal female is cherished for her youth, beauty, and purity. These qualities are appreciated as internalized social mores in such socialization that creates boundaries to protect Ophelia. She is praised in their society for her compliance, beauty, and purity by even the other female character in the play, Gertrude, when she says, “Ophelia, I do wish that your good beauties be the happy cause of Hamlet’s wildness/ so shall I hope your virtues will bring him to his wonted ways again”, (III.i.39-43). In such a
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These two passages are engaging to the reader because they provide a rare glimpse into the characters of Gertrude and Ophelia. For the most part, Hamlet is a male-centered play; it is interesting to observe the role of women within this structure. Given the small roles assigned to Gertrude and Ophelia, it is imperative to closely examine their descriptions and words, especially in reference to the male characters.
The women in Hamlet are affected greatly after being exploited by the men in the play. Ophelia goes mad – her nature is “indeed distract”- not only because of the exploitation, but also because of her Father’s death,
In the play Hamlet, Shakespeare, the author, creates female characters that occupy very different roles than in his other plays. In this play, Hamlet plays opposite two women who are used by the men around them in order to further their own interests. One woman is named Ophelia. In many of Shakespeare’s other plays, he creates women that are very strong and play a very real role in the life of the protagonist. In Hamlet, however, Ophelia occupies a very different role-she exemplifies a pawn of the men around her. She is used not only by her father and his associate the King, but also by her supposed lover, Hamlet. This is a very different role for a woman in a Shakespearian play. Also, Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude,
When looking at Hamlet through a feminist lens, Ophelia and Gertrude gain the spotlight. However, with the spotlight on them, they are shown to be dependent upon men and men’s affection, Gertrude needing the affection of Claudius, and Ophelia needing the affection of Hamlet. This shows the women in the play to be seen as weak minded and easily exploited. In the end, not only is Claudius the reason for Gertrude’s death, but Hamlet is the reason for Ophelia’s death. The men they are dependent on control Ophelia and Gertrude’s stories; yet, those men are what drive them to the grave.
In today’s world, women of all ages are given equal rights and freedom. In Shakespeare’s time, woman’s obligations were to follow the rules of the men and obey the men in their lives’. “Frailty, thy name is woman;” Hamlet implies the powerlessness of the two women characters in the play. In Hamlet, the roles of Gertrude and Ophelia are very important in that they are the only two female characters in the play. Gertrude, the Queen of Denmark and mother of Hamlet, and Ophelia, the lover of Hamlet, are characterized as controlled and lost in their lives because they are being used by the men throughout the play. Fundamentally, Shakespeare illustrates the nature of Gertrude and Ophelia as powerless victims by the women being subjects of men,
The noble and innocent youth Ophelia tries her hardest to obey/impress her elders. Prince Hamlet and Ophelia have a complicated relationship in which they have on and off’s. At the beginning Ophelia’s love for Prince Hamlet is strong but she has to keep her innocence/ obedience
During the Renaissance, it was common for women to behave a certain manner in a patriarchal society. Acting as a subordinate to their husband and fathers, women were expected to listen to the men in their lives and carry out their wishes. This cultural expectation exists in Shakespeare’s Hamlet through the father-daughter relationship between Polonius and Ophelia. Polonius is an overbearing father who ultimately plays the most influential role for Ophelia. He demands to have control over every aspect of her life, whether it’s social, emotional, or marital. Without a mother-like figure to follow, Ophelia is forced to succumb to the standards that men have put upon her. Both characters illustrate the superficiality to their personas and how they each curb their intentions due to traditional values.
From historical events such as World War I and World War II to present day women have been playing prominent roles. During the 14th and 15th centuries women had no important roles in their families, they were only used to take care of their families and to use their body for sex for men. A women mostly always needed a man by her side to stay stable and strong, otherwise they are known to be weak without them.
Yet to Hamlet, Ophelia is no better than another Gertrude: both are tender of heart but submissive to the will of importunate men, and so are forced into uncharacteristic vices. Both would be other than what they are, and both receive Hamlet’s exhortations
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet can be read as a feminist play given Ophelia’s experiences within the Danish society. Through Ophelia’s interactions with the men of the play, the audience can see that the male-dominated society brings inequality, distrust, and destruction. As Ophelia interacts with her brother, her father, and Hamlet, she is completely unable to assert her own independence, and her lack of personal autonomy eventually drives her to madness. These three men all deny Ophelia’s individuality and desire for self-control because they are accustomed to their male-dominated world. However, once Ophelia is driven to madness, she is regarded as an individual and finally has political and social power. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a feminist play located within a misogynistic culture that Ophelia struggles to escape.
The treatment of women in Hamlet is very troubling. The leading female characters, Queen Gertrude and Ophelia, are pawns or puppets for the men around them. Like chess pieces, they are moved about and influenced by the men they love with little say of their own; in fact, Shakespeare does not even develop their characters.
Linette Martir Ms. Given Honors English 21 December 2017 Queen Gertrude and Ophelia as Servants in a Royal Castle of Males “We need everyone to be a feminist. Feminism is the fight for the equality of sexes, not for the domination of one sex over another” (Vallaud-Belkacem). Literary theories are lenses through which one can see in literature. An example of a literary theory is the feminist theory, which is created to enlighten others on social problem that are ignored or misinterpreted. Feminism existed since the 1500’s but the theory was created in the 1900’s. Due to the creation of the feminist theory, an audience can look through the feminist lens when reading a book or even watching a movie. This allows an audience to detect how women are portrayed or treated. Throughout the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Gertrude and Ophelia are unimportant to the plot. They are not only unimportant, they are also mistreated. Examining through the feminist lens in the 16th century, William Shakespeare reveals the way in which women are mistreated by men in Hamlet utilizing Gertrude and Ophelia as victims. With that in mind, the male roles in Hamlet are dominant because women are lower than men. Both Hamlet and Polonius mistreat Gertrude and Ophelia as if it is normal. The reason Shakespeare normalizes their controllable ways, is because during the time period Hamlet takes place mistreating women was not unusual. Since it is normal, Polonius and Hamlet treat the women poorly without realizing they are incorrect. Shakespeare realized this was an issue so he decided to expose the problem through his writing. Ironically, Gertrude is the Queen and the mother of Hamlet, but that does not stop him from having control over her. To explain further, in Gertrude’s bedroom Hamlet disrespects his mother greatly by making her feel guilty for her choices. He believes “...Gertrude is a moral self who must be brought to account for her sins and must work through the same confrontation of guilt as every other member...” (Montgomery 102). As Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude should have power over him and have the strong voice that can stop him. Instead Hamlet controls Gertrude and demands her to do things such as never to “let the bloat King
The play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, is set in an anti-feminist era. Women traditionally have been seen inferior to men. This was an intellectual as well as a physical issue. Women were to raise a family, cook, clean, be pretty and not be smarter than any man. The main characters Ophelia and Gertrude are both depicted with these characteristics as powerless and frail people. This illustration of helpless women affects one's understanding of what their true selves could be.
Hamlet, a tragic play written by Shakespeare in the 1600s, portrays the struggle of young Hamlet in the face of avenging his father’s death. While major themes throughout this tragedy include death, loss, madness, revenge, and morality, another important theme to include in discussion is the theme of womanhood. The only two female characters in a cast of thirty-five include Queen Gertrude and Ophelia, both of whom die unfortunate deaths. The importance of womanhood and female sexuality is shown through several literary techniques; though, most importantly, the characters Queen Gertrude and Ophelia are both symbols for female sexuality. Both characters are developed as negative and positive sides to womanhood through dialogue as other characters approach them, their own actions, and most importantly, their individual deaths.
“Frailty, thy name is woman” (1.2. 150)! This controversial line, followed by several more from the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, displays a common view towards women that portrays them as being weak and reliant on men. Throughout the play, two women, Ophelia and Gertrude, are shown to be dependent on the men in their lives. They both take on a senselessly obedient state of mind. Even though they share this common characteristic, Ophelia and Gertrude are very different characters. Ophelia is a beautiful, young woman who is the love interest of the protagonist, Hamlet. Ophelia obeys her father, Polonius, without hesitation and has very little experience with making her own decisions. Gertrude was the wife of Old Hamlet, and is now the wife of Claudius, the current king and Old Hamlet’s brother. Gertrude desires affection and status more than she cares about the truth of what happened to her late husband. The men in this play have no sense of how they treat the females. This patriarchal way of life was prominent in the late 16th century and early 17th century which was about the time that Hamlet was written and performed. This relationship between the genders is interconnected within the play and with society during that particular time period. The characters of Ophelia and Gertrude were solid examples of how women were viewed as inferior to men during this time in history.