Misogynistic Ideals in Hamlet

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Hamlet notoriously asserts, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (I.II.150) after being disgruntled and disappointed by his mother’s short mourning period for his father. To a modern audience, this phrase is immensely appalling, but for the Elizabethan era, this is perfectly acceptable. Elizabethan social order was built upon a temple where its foundations was the patriarchal domination and it was decorated with misogynistic ornaments. Hamlet’s tumultuous relationship with Ophelia is due to his distrust and dissatisfaction with his own mother, Gertrude. Shakespeare’s Elsinore is pulsing with testosterone throughout its palace walls. King Claudius, King of Denmark, is the chief of state and Gertrude remains loyal and dependent on him. On a lower level, Polonius, is the chief advisor, who is the head of his family and Ophelia remains dependent on him. Hamlet views that both Ophelia and Gertrude are dependent on the men in their lives because they are incapable of fending, thinking and supporting themselves, which prompts to Hamlet’s misogynistic feelings.

Hamlet scorns Gertrude after she chooses to remarry his uncle, Claudius, quickly and by doing so she sealed her fate as an ever dependent woman in Hamlet’s eyes. Hamlet states, “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!), A little month, or ere those shoes were old With which she followed my poor father’s body, Within a month, Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married. O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (I.II. 146-160). Hamlet acknowledges that his mother was heavily sexually dependent and she will have any other to fulfill that position in her life as her longing grows for sex. Hamlet loses all respect for his mother because she married her brother-in-law, which in his mind is “incestuous” and immoral. Hamlet’s distaste in the timing of the marriage and...
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