"Perception of Women in the Play “Hamlet”

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In the time of Shakespeare, women were always seen as humbled and complying individuals. That is of no exception when it comes to the female characters in the tragedy “Hamlet”. Both Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother and Ophelia, Hamlet’s lover, are portrayed so subdued that throughout the play they can be seen as minor characters up until the end when their characters blossomed and their voices ignited. Despite the importance of women in the play “Hamlet”, Shakespeare presents female characters as weak, submissive individuals who are subservient to men.

Ophelia, a beautiful young woman, is the young daughter of Polonius, the sister of Laertes, and Hamlet's love interest. In the play, Ophelia is caught between her obedience to her father and her love for Hamlet, which has tragic consequences (Mabillard). Ophelia’s character may be the most important character in the whole work. She has the potential to become a tragic heroine - to overcome the adversities inflicted upon her - but she instead crumbles into insanity, becoming merely tragic (Mabillard). Her representation however, is more important than the character herself. She is used to show the dual roles in Hamlets crazed mind frame; women play as callous sexual predators and innocent virtuous women. Hamlet thinks of Ophelia in that way only because she, to him, is a reflection of his own mother whom he resents. He seems to know that Ophelia is partnered with her father in spying on him because he accuses her of being unfaithful and deceptive (Mabillard). In the quote "With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action.—Soft you now, The fair Ophelia!” it clearly shows that with Polonius’ (her father) commands, she does indeed play on Hamlet’s emotions in a deceitful manner. Her actions were only brought upon because of her father’s command “I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, Have you so slander any moment leisure, As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to't, I charge...
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