Feminism in Hamlet
“Frailty, thy name is women”; Mother, thy name is greatness
Loyalty or betrayal, nobody can definitely point out what the truth is; but something that seems like the truth may not always be correct. Truth usually hides behind the stage and needs to be found by knowing what the characters are actually thinking. The Queen acts as a controversial character in the play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare. She marries her husband’s brother just after her husband’s death. “Treachery”, “recreance”, “conscienceless” become the symbols of her character. As a queen of noble lineage, she has superior power, but no access to speak freely. Everything she does is to protect her son Hamlet. The pitiful queen becomes the scapegoat in a play filled with male characters. She loves only her true husband-King Hamlet. Her weakness and sin is just a foolish pretense for male chauvinism. Weakness or sagacity may on the surface appear to be just a result of a decision made on the spur of the moment. Queen Gertrude has always been a controversial character. “In 1848, Strachey called her “weak”; and Professor Nicoll declares her ‘Little more than a puppet’,” (Draper). Is Gertrude a symbol of weakness or sagacity? According to John William Draper’s understanding of Hamlet, he offers another perspective to understanding the queen. “Can Gertrude, indeed, have been so “weak”? This interpretation apparently is based on the vague accusations of the Ghost and on Hamlet’s bitter, but also vague, reproaches, and especially on his “Frailty, thy name is women,” early in the play” (Draper). Here Draper alters the discussion around Gertrude from focus on her frailty and weakness to argue that her actions are misunderstood by male characters who do not understand the complexity of female nature. In Act 1 Scene 2 Queen Gertrude speaks to Hamlet about her perception of the circumstances they have been placed in since her husband’s death. Gertrude clearly articulates her belief...
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