Representation Of Women In Hamlet Analysis

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Over the course of time, women have constantly been controlled, and in some ways, contained by men. This is no different in William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Within the play, the representation of women, especially through their grief, is a crucial component to the tragedy that unfolds. Initially, the women are contained in some way, meaning their stories are narrated or interpreted by someone else. However, towards the middle of the play, this changes and the women begin to control their own grief while still showing constraint. Katharine Goodland analyzes this portrayal of grief in her article “The Gendered Poetics of Tragedy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.” Throughout the course of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the women are portrayed as …show more content…
After the singing of her laments, Ophelia goes to a nearby stream where she drowns. Goodland writes, “Ophelia’s laments awaken Gertrude’s mourning songs, for when Ophelia drowns, Gertrude carries on her legacy, interrupting the men’s plotting in order to lament for Ophelia” (199). As Gertrude continues, she realizes the turmoil that has struck. Eventually, she takes on the role Ophelia once filled and begins to grieve independently. Gertrude not only grieves for Ophelia, but she also begins to grieve for herself. She realizes similarities that she once shared with Ophelia. As Gertrude announced the death of Ophelia to Laertes, Ophelia’s brother, Gertrude rattled on about wild wreaths Ophelia, made out of the greenery located around the brook and emphasized the vulgar things said by men. In her description of Ophelia’s death, Gertrude presented her in a heavenly way by saying “Her clothes spread wide, / and mermaid-like a while they bore her up” (4.7.190-201). Through this description, Gertrude vividly states her fondness for Ophelia. She emphasizes that women are not the insane ones, but that men are insane for making women conform to their ideal of perfection. Gertrude’s description of Ophelia’s death also portrays her guilt for her lack of grief. After the loss of her husband, Gertrude did not grieve in the eyes of Hamlet, however, Ophelia did nothing but grieve after she lost her love and her father. For Gertrude, Ophelia’s death emphasizes what she already knows and allows her to begin to grieve independently. Although Gertrude did not begin to mourn on her own until the loss of Ophelia, she did add an integral depth to female mourning by expressing her guilt and regret by mocking Ophelia’s song-like

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