Essay On Violence In Hamlet

2126 Words 9 Pages
Violence makes many appearances within Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The play is bookmarked with murders, starting with the off stage murder of Hamlet Sr. and culminating into the murders of the rest of the Danish royal family at the end of the storyline. While the violence found within the play is usually physically perpetrated by a male character, female characters are also given affect by and therefore exist in relation to the violence happening on stage. Violence particularly appears after the dismissal of women has occurred by the male characters. The lessening or outright dismissal of women’s concerns creates a breeding ground for more violence to occur within the play. Ophelia’s relationship to violence before and after her death particularly …show more content…
The scene occurs directly after Ophelia drowning where Gertrude breaks the news to Laertes. An interesting example occurs directly after the queen enters the scene. Gertrude’s first lines are, “One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, so fast they follow. Your sister’s drowned, Laertes.” This is the first knowledge in the play given to the audience that Ophelia has drowned. It is interesting that this is framed from the perspective of a woman telling a man this news. The text seems to be placing a burden on the female characters, not allowing the female characters the emotions and agency that male characters are afforded. It’s interesting to notice the lack exclamation points or excited syntax in Gertrude’s speech. However, in the very next line, we see Laertes saying, “Drowned! Oh, where?”. Laertes is afforded the privilege of using exclamation and speaking in short excited sentences to mirror his emotional response to the death of Ophelia, but Gertrude is not textually given this ability. Gertrude also bears a burden of truth in response to Laertes question. She speaks for a total of eighteen lines, all without exclamatory punctuation and all consisting of long sentences. The effect of these longer sentences makes Gertrude appear to be less emotional about what has occurred. Gertrude has had to set aside her emotional response to Ophelia’s death in order to deliver information to a male …show more content…
Claudius has one set of lines that begins, “Let’s follow Gertrude. How much I had to do to calm his rage!”. Interestingly, Claudius receives the ability to use exclamation, even though he is not even directly responding to the death of Ophelia, but instead of the emotional response of Laertes. Not only does this give more emotional agency to men, it also dismisses the death of Ophelia as being less important than the possible response of Laertes. Claudius is more interested in following Laertes than grieving for Ophelia or even asking Gertrude if she is emotionally okay after receiving the news. This serves as yet another dismissal of women’s feelings, which leads up to more conflict and violence. Additionally, the text shows Claudius essentially ordering Gertrude to follow Laertes giving her no time to grieve for Ophelia. Gertrude is expected to follow Claudius at a whim to the scene that ultimately leads to the end of Gertrude’s life. This serves as a concrete example of men’s dismissal to women leading to more death and conflict, namely the death of Gertrude, which ultimately did not need to happen and would not have happened if Claudius would not have asked her to follow Laertes. The fact that Claudius gets the last lines of the scene gives the audience the sense that Claudius has ultimate say over Gertrude. At no point was she allowed to voice her opinions on following

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