Discuss the Female Characters in Hamlet-Support with Reference to the Text!

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Although the male characters take lead in this Shakespearean play, the roles of Gertrude and Ophelia are both memorable. Neither of the women have many lines. However both roles are crucial although very different. Hamlets judgement on his mother’s behaviour following the death of his father greatly influences his subsequent treatment of Ophelia. He regards his mother’s present marriage as an occasion for bestial lust. This causes him to treat Ophelia with disdain and disgust uttering the famous quote ‘Get thee to a nunnery…..’ Gertrude is the catalyst for much that happens in the play. Claudius has killed his brother because he wanted his crown and seemingly his wife. He is unwilling to surrender either ’My crown, mine own ambition and my queen. May one be pardoned and retain the offence? She is a symbol of the weakness of the women in the Danish court. She remains loyal to Claudius even after Hamlet reveals Claudius murdered his father. Her brevity of grieving the death of his father is a main reason for his new found disillusionment with life ’O god a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer ’He thinks of the marriage to his uncle with revulsion’ Such an act that blurs the grace and blush of modesty…’ We may further judge the character of Gertrude by her attraction to Claudius. Claudius with his flattery, ’wicked wit’ and ‘traitorous gifts’ must seem very appealing after being married to ‘Old Hamlet’. Such was her attraction to him that she betrayed her husband while he lived with ‘that adulterous beast’ as Hamlet refers to Claudius. Ophelia is also a symbol of the weakness of women in the Danish court. She is abused by Hamlet, lectured by Laertes, manipulated by Polonius and exploited by Claudius. The cynicism and disgust with which Hamlet comes to regard marriage is patently clear in his instruction to Ophelia to ‘get thee to a nunnery’ and by asking her ‘Why would’st thou be a breeder of sinners? ‘Hamlet tells her that if she wishes to...
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