A Case Of Hysteria By William Shakespeare Essay

1901 Words Dec 6th, 2016 8 Pages
“When Men are oppressed it’s a tragedy; when Women are oppressed, it’s a tradition” (Pogrebin). A tradition so universal that it has spawned a multitude of anthropological theories concerning its origin. Social anthropologist Gayle Rubin identifies “a systematic social apparatus which takes up females as raw materials and fashions domesticated women as products” and notes that “the exchange of women is a profound perception of a system in which women do not have full rights to themselves” (Rubin). This tradition represents such an ubiquitous phenomenon that the narrative women exists throughout the Western canon. Historically and in literature, the oppression of women, particularly the sexual repression, often results in symptoms viewed as hysterical, a psychological tendency that Sigmund Freud studied in his book Dora: An Analysis of A Case of Hysteria. Ophelia’s role in Hamlet exemplifies the narrative illustrated in Dora in which powerful male figures commodify and subjugate women; however, while Ophelia’s only escape from the system of exchange (as described by Rubin) was death, Dora suggests that knowledge offers women more power to decide their fate. Both Ophelia and Dora are young women in societies with incredibly strict expectations dictating the proper behavior of women, namely that they should remain pure until marriage. This overwhelming cultural emphasis on purity breeds sexual repression because as women, Dora and Ophelia have both been taught that their…

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