The Treatment of Women in Hamlet Essay

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The Treatment of Women in Hamlet

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.

Of course, Hamlet is the whirlwind at the center of attention throughout the play, one who is incredibly difficult to understand. To me, he appears to be an adolescent completely out of control. Virtually everyone tries to pacify him, yet nothing seems to work, and the more they pamper the worse he becomes; reminds me of the old cliché, give an inch, take a …show more content…

The concept of Gertrude's femininity was clear to me throughout the play, its significance lied in what was implied rather than spoken.

Gertrude, "Good Hamlet, cast thy knighted color off, and let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark [...] Thou know'st 'tis common: all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity." (1.2.69-74)

Gertrude speaking to Hamlet, "Let not thy mother lose her prayers, I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberge." (1.2.120-1)

Gertrude to Ophelia, "And for your part, 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 way again, to both your honours." (3.1.43-7)

In defense of her son's murder of Polonius, speaking to Claudius, "O'er whom his very madness, like some ore (gold) among a mineral of metals base, shows itself pure: he weeps for what he has done."

In her final moments: Gertrude, "No, no, the drink, the drink - O my dear Hamlet...The drink, the drink! I am poisoned." (5.2.288)

Ophelia, on the other hand, is given far more lines than Gertrude. We learn much more about Ophelia during the play through her words, and a sort of osmosis through those she is surrounded, observed, and manipulated by: Polonius, Laertes, Hamlet, and Claudius.

Upon my

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