Roles of Mothers in Tragic Plays

Topics: Tragedy, Marriage, Sophocles Pages: 3 (1018 words) Published: May 13, 2013
In tragic plays it appears that women, more specifically mothers like Gertrude of Hamlet and Jocasta of Oedipus the King, are plagued by decisions that are made with good intentions, but end up destroying their lives and the lives of people around them. Women are also under the burden of strict societal expectations when it comes to the decisions they make. These two tragic plays illuminate a human being’s capacity for suffering. Gertrude and Jocasta both care deeply for their sons. However, this care unintentionally causes harm to both of the mothers and their sons. For these two women, marriage is regarded as a societal expectation. Under the societal norms of their time, they are required to marry people to preserve their kingdom. Also, in both of these tragic plays, Gertrude and Jocasta plays are largely characterized by their emotions. Lastly, it is evident that often times women inadvertently bring about the destruction and chaos that is central to the play. Jocasta and Gertrude both engage in decisions that may seem trivial, but end up being very important on a large scale. Strict societal expectations are placed on women in tragic plays. For example, it is assumed that women are to marry according to societal norms and expectations. When Oedipus kills King Laius and saves the city of Thebes from plague, Jocasta is expected to marry the person that saved her kingdom. However, women in tragic plays are given a choice when it comes to marriage, but societal expectations are likely to dictate this choice. For example, Gertrude chose to marry her deceased husband’s brother, Claudius. Even though she likely had a choice in the matter, Gertrude probably married Claudius because she thought she was protecting the crown for her son, Hamlet. Women in tragic plays, especially women in power, are expected to marry a man that is regarded by their kingdom as capable and strong. Because of this, marriage in tragic plays is a societal expectation for women in power....
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