The Portrayal of Women in Hamlet
"Frailty, Thy name is woman," quoted by Shakespeare himself, alluding to the claimed inherent weakness of womens' character. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, women are portrayed in a very sexual manner and are looked down upon, which is a result of the Prince's deep seated issues. One issue that Hamlet faces is misogyny towards women, which is an ongoing problem throughout the entire play. The second issue that Hamlet deals with is the Oedipus Complex, which can be seen through the remarks that he makes to his mother. The portrayal of misogyny is seen throughout various sections of the work. Hamlet seems to direct his misogyny mainly toward Ophelia, which is revealed by making sexual comments, metaphorically referring to Ophelia as a puppet, and putting Ophelia's worth and chastity into question. First, during the play directed by himself, Hamlet starts to make sexual remarks to Ophelia. Hamlet snickers as he says, "That's a fair thought to lie between a maids' legs" (Act III, ii, 114). This demonstrates his misogyny, as Hamlet is sexually humiliating Ophelia in front of the audience, including her father Polonius. Following, Hamlet uses the metaphor of a puppet, hinting to Ophelia that she shall 'perform' for him sexually. Hamlet suggests that he could "interpret between [her] and [her] love if [he] could see the puppets dallying" (Act III, ii, 236-237), he also mentions that she could "take off [his] edge" but it might make her moan a little (Act III, ii, 239). Essentially, Hamlet is telling Ophelia to perform a little 'puppet show' of love for him. In addition, Hamlet puts Ophelia's worth and her chastity into question. Hamlet asks, "Are you honest?/ Are you fair?/ That if you are honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty" (Act III, si, 103-108). By Hamlet asking if Ophelia is chaste, is also puts her worth into question because during the time period, a females worth was measured by her virginity. If she...
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