Oppression Of Female Characters In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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In Shakespeare’s Hamlet the quantity of female characters is limited to two people, however while their numbers are low, they still maintain an important role in the play through their interactions with Hamlet. Hamlet’s perception of his mother evolves throughout the play from one with no evidence to support discontent, to one of a flawed sinner in need of instruction because of her betrayal of Hamlet’s father. Hamlet’s view that Gertrude has lost her virtue causes him to generalize his negative view to all women and this affects Hamlet’s relationship with the only other female character in the play, Ophelia, by causing Hamlet to see every woman as a sinner with no virtue who needs instruction, the same way that he sees his mother. Hamlet’s …show more content…
Early on in the play however, the reader is able to witness the relationship as it stands currently, by observing Hamlet and Gertrude’s interaction with each other. Queen: “Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted, color off… do not forever with they vailed lids seek for thy noble father in the dust.” (Act 1 sc. 2 Ln. 70-74) It is evident that Gertrude does not believe that anything has changed and she is being the attentive mother that she has always been, despite the fact that her husband has died and she married his brother. Hamlet however does not seem to feel the same way. “Heaven and earth must I remember? Why she would hang on him as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on. And yet, within a month (Let me not think on’t; frailty, thy name is woman!)… She married.” (Act 1 sc. 2 Ln. 146-150) Clearly, seeing his mother with another man so quickly after his father’s death is difficult for Hamlet. He views Gertrude’s speedy marriage as a betrayal of his father and judges her accordingly. This directly affects his relationship with …show more content…
Hamlet tells Ophelia, “Go thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? ... Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell ” (Act 3 sc. 1 Ln. 131-132 and 149-152) Hamlet treats Ophelia as if she had committed some terrible sin, when in fact his treatment is unwarranted and based solely on his experience with his mother. However he continues to command her to abstain from sin by going to a nunnery and treats her as if she has no virtue even though there is no evidence to support that she does not. This greatly affects Ophelia causing her to commit suicide by drowning herself later in the play. Hamlet’s harsh words also affect his mother who ultimately suffers the same fate as

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