Hamlet's Attitude and Treatment of Women

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Samuel Lormeus
Ms. Huth
17, November 2011

Hamlet’s Attitude & Treatment towards Women
“Frailty, thy name is woman” (Act 1: Scene 2, l.146), is one of the countless great quotes from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and depicts how Hamlet views the women in his life. He believes that both his mother and his lover Ophelia betray him. As a result, he concludes that the entire female society is deceitful. The prominent female role in Hamlet’s life is his mother, Gertrude. He develops abhorrence towards his mother because of her lack of mourning over her husband, King Hamlet, and that fact that she swiftly married King Hamlet’s brother, Claudius. The other female in Hamlet’s life is Ophelia whom he is in love with. The two were in love but as the play progressed, Hamlet accuses her of being disloyal and deceptive. Hamlet is critical towards women because he believes that their sexuality can lead them to betray men.

This mindset of women being deceitful is one of the reasons why Hamlet is so hostile towards his own mother. Soon after his father’s death, Gertrude marries Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius. Although the marriage was both sinful and immoral, they were able to get away with it because of their royal status. When Hamlet finds out that his mother had married his uncle, his world is completely turned upside down. He is left with the sense that the world is contaminated and is disgusted by Gertrude’s act of incest. He alludes to this when he says, “to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets,” (Act 1: Scene 2, l.157). Another reason why Hamlet is so hostile towards Gertrude is he wants her to feel guilty for marrying Claudius. After he killed Polonius, Hamlet then goes on a tirade against Gertude thus making her admit her guilt and her wrongdoings, “These words like daggers enter in mine ears … no more sweet Hamlet,” (Act 3: Scene 4, l.96-97). Since Hamlet uses his mother as a comparison to all women, if she is corrupt, then all women...
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