Women's Role in Shakespearean Tragedy

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In Shakespeare's tragedies and his plays in general, we can come across several types of female characters. Their influence with other characters and their purpose or role, often underestimated like women themselves, will be this essay's main subject. Women in Shakespearean plays have always had important roles, sometimes even the leading role. Whether they create the main conflicts and base of the plays, or bring up interesting moral and cultural questions, they have always been put in challenging situations. Some women are stronger than others, and their effect on the play is different for each one. They often even surpass the male heroes. It's almost unbelieveable, if we take into consideration the status of women, of course with…show more content…
Only transgressing the patriarchal bounds of femininity by marrying so soon after her husband's death and not remaining in passive grief makes her "strong" but grim indeed. This provides Hamlet with a model of women's inconstancy ("Frailty, thy name is woman."). On the other hand in the portrayal of unstable Ophelia Shakespeare shows how men in a strong patriarchal society controlled women in the 1600s. The influence of men in Ophelia's life is evident throughout by the relationships with men in her life. It is interesting to note that Ophelia's first scene is in a very domestic setting. She is influenced and controlled by those around her, and unable to express her deep feelings because of their control. Actually she suffers as a result of Hamlet's patriarchal values of womanhood. Ophelia's subsequent madness and eventual suicide (so typical sign of the classical tragedy) came as a result of the pressure and control her father and the king had over her. At her father's death she lost her identity completely, and along with that her sanity. But she has a major influence on Hamlet, and his return to sanity, despite the fact, she is a victim.

Juliet is given similar personality in another Shakespeare's tragic play, "Romeo and Juliet". Again it explores the effects of patriarchal authority exerted over women and the responses to it. Through heroine Juliet, Lady Capulet, and the Nurse, Shakespeare establishes a common understanding of this type of society, and

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