Feminist Perspectives In William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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The works of playwright William Shakespeare have dominated our cultural imagination over the past four centuries, lending themselves as influences on the English language, popular media, as well as many academic analyses. One such play of Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, has lent itself to a multitude of literary perspectives over the past few centuries. As an example, feminist perspectives have brought into focus the few women characterized in the play, Ophelia and Gertrude, and analyzed the many sociocultural and historical forces that surround these characters and their roles in Hamlet. The sexism Ophelia experiences from her family and from Hamlet in her role as a daughter of a lord of the royal Danish court keeps her character from blossoming into …show more content…
There is no one else eligible for Ophelia to marry due to her role as a daughter in a royal court constraining her to marry within her class. Laertes also tells his sister “Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain/If with too credent ear you list his songs, /Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open/To his unmastered importunity” (1.3.29-32). As Ophelia’s brother, Laertes felt the need to warn her against her love for Hamlet to protect her and to protect her honor and sexuality. This kept Ophelia away from Hamlet as well, which limited her options of a life outside of her family. Ophelia would have lived a sheltered life and only known about the ways of royalty and high ranking members of society and of proper manners in that society. It would have been more difficult for Ophelia to imagine having a life outside of what she had learned, because she would have faced strong encouragement to act in a certain role for the rest of her life. In turn, this contributed to Ophelia’s decision to commit suicide as she lost hope in ever finding anyone to marry because of only knowing the royal court and having few options of people to choose from. Polonius stifles Ophelia’s feelings for Hamlet when he arranges for a meeting between Ophelia and Hamlet. In Act III, Scene I, Polonius orders Ophelia to return the love letters and other mementos that Hamlet gave to her to end Ophelia and Hamlet’s relationship. With the lack of support from her father and brother on her love life, Ophelia does not have anyone to lean on for guidance due to her being sheltered. Since her brother, Laertes, was in France during the time Hamlet murders Polonius, Ophelia is then left without the security of having her family telling her what to do anymore. Ophelia has to live with the

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