The Female Roles Of Female Characters In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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During the sixteenth century, women were challenged with expressing themselves due to the patriarchal system that refused women to have equal opportunities as men. Throughout literature femininity is a largely debated issue when analyzing texts, especially Shakespeare. In Shakespeare 's play, Hamlet, Ophelia and Gertrude play the typical female roles: submissive, powerless, and dependent on the male characters.
The female characters in Hamlet are passive to the male characters. Ophelia submits herself in full obedience to all the men in her life, including her father, brother, and Hamlet. Ophelia’s obedience is exhibited when she is speaking with her brother and father about her relationship with Hamlet. Laertes and Polonius both forbid her
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She never denies male characters demands even if it is not what she would prefer to do. This prevents Ophelia from ever expressing her love for Hamlet. Gertrude shows as another prime example of a female that is submissive to the men in her life. Gertrude’s love and obedience toward Claudius are shown throughout the play when she relentlessly stands by, supports, and obeys all of his requests. Claudius tells Gertrude to dismiss herself while he observes his plan to let Hamlet and Ophelia be together; analyzing if it is the cause of Hamlet’s madness. Gertrude replies, “I shall obey you” (III.i.42.). Though she is concerned for Hamlet, she does not allow herself to get involved when trying to find the source of his madness. She is not permitted to act in the way she feels making her very similar to Ophelia. With this, the females must live their lives in the shadows of the male characters making their thoughts and feelings oppressed by a patriarchal society.a branch …show more content…
Gertrude may be the queen of Denmark, but she has no control over the kingdom unless she is accompanied by a male to grant permission. Her lack of power is even portrayed in her time of death. Gertrudes last words are, “ The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.” (V.ii.242.). Her inability to maintain power in society leads to her death because she is unaware of Claudius’s plan to murder Hamlet. She is unworthy to be in on the schemes. Claudius prevents Gertrude from discovering his plan out of fear that her feminine nature would overtake her. She would cause problems due to her unreliability and emotionally weak being. Ophelia is also suppressed from expressing herself and her true feelings. Since she is not wed, she is confined by the orders of her father, making her his property with little to no freedom. Ophelia must find an alternative way to gain power, so she does the only thing she has control of and ends her life. Gertrude speaks of Ophelia’s death and states, “Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke” (IV.vii.186.). This suggests that Ophelia did not intentionally jump into the water. When the tree branch broke and she fell in the water she had the decision to make, to live or to die. Her having this choice finally put power over her life in her own hands. She chose death instead of returning to a life of complete oppression to men. Ophelia and Gertrude symbolize the

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