Women and Frailty in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

1330 Words Mar 13th, 2008 6 Pages
Women and Frailty

The two women in Shakespeare's tragic play Hamlet play larger parts than meets the eye. These two women embody the saying, "there are no small parts, only small actors." While Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, and Ophelia, Hamlet's lover, are very different and lead different lives, they suffer similar fates. Both women have control not of their lives but of their deaths.Gertrude and Ophelia are anything but independent women. The two women need and rely on the strength of the men in their lives. Once they stray away from these influential men, the women find their ultimate demise.
Gertrude, the Queen of Denmark, appears to have no genuine thoughts. She agrees with her husband each time he opens his mouth. While Hamlet
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O, most wicked speed, to post/ With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!/ It is not, nor it cannot come to good./ But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue" (I, ii, 153-159). Hamlet's attitude soon changes. Hamlet does care about his mother and does not want to hurt her too much. He makes this very evident when he gives his speech for the fifth soliloquy. Hamlet remarks that he must do as his father asked and not punish him mother:
Soft, not to my mother./ O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever/ The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom./ Let me be cruel, but not unnatural;/ I will speak daggers to her, but use none./ My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites:/ How in my words somever she be shent,/ To give them seals never, my soul, consent! (III, iii, 400-407)
Hamlet knows that what he has to do, he must follow his father's wishes, all of them. Not only did the ghost request that Hamlet avenge his death but he made sure to keep a watchful eye on his wife. Hamlet gets carried away while speaking with his mother in her bedroom forgetting what he has said about being cruel, but not unnatural. He raises his voice to his mother crying out his feeling:
Sense sure you have,/ Else could you not have motion, but sure that sense/ Is apoplexed, for madness would not err,/ Nor
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