The female characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet are a complicated lot. Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, is much maligned for her sexual and romantic alliance with Hamlet’s own uncle. Ophelia is portrayed as a woman who is so consumed with love for Hamlet that she is willing to sacrifice her life for him. Through these two very different characters, Shakespeare portrays women negatively in limited roles. Women have no chance for redemption, and are subject to the decisions that men make for them. Today women have many rights. We can vote, work, and even voice our own opinions. In the past, women were seen as mothers and housekeepers, always taught to respect, listen, and serve their husbands or the man of the house. In those days, this was considered normal, therefore women had no choice but to obey and do as they were told. In Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays a similar relationship between women and men. He allows men to hold the higher position, causing them to treat women as lesser people and believed that women should listen to them and do as they were told.
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, women are characterized as weak and submissive and as obedient and compliant. There are only two female characters in this play – Gertrude; the Queen, and Ophelia; Hamlet’s love interest. The two both play a passive role in the play’s action, but they are extremely important in exposing the play’s themes – in particular Hamlet’s misogyny.
Gertrude impresses us a woman who is dependent on men. She lives in the shadow of two kings. Her first husband – Old Hamlet was murdered and yet “within a month”, she married her brother-in-law, Claudius. Claudius and Gertrude make an unlikely couple to an audience aware of the former’s deceit. It would appear that their marriage is obtained for convenience rather than love. Gertrude is completely unaware that the man she married is the murderer of her first husband. It has been suggested that Gertrude only married Claudius for...
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