All of the text we have read this semester reflect male dominated cultures, yet in all of them, women play very important roles. In the text the we've read, Hamlet, Gilgamesh, and The Odyssey, women played a small role, yet there are the driving factors for the actions of many other characters. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, both Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, and Ophelia, Hamlet's love, affected many of the decisions and actions done by Hamlet.
Gertrude influenced Hamlet significantly throughout the course of the play. Hamlet was very angered by his mother's remarriage. Not so long after his father's death, Gertrude married Claudius, Hamlet's uncle. He was driven mad when his father's ghost appeared to him and revealed that Claudius was responsible for the death of Old Hamlet. Hamlet even phrased the marriage as incest. Hamlets rage is displayed when he throws his mother on the bed and says, "Frailty, thy name is woman" (Act1, Scene2, Line146). This show his extent of anger because he makes a generalization that all women are weak. As a result of his mother's actions, Hamlet strives to seek revenge against Claudius for the death of his father. In order to marry Gertrude, Claudius kills his brother. Therefore, Gertrude is the driving factor for the whole setup of the play.
Another significant female character is Ophelia, Hamlet's love. Hamlet's quest for revenge interferes with his relationship with Ophelia. There is much evidence to show that Hamlet loved her a great deal, but his pretense of madness drove her to her death. Ophelia drowned not knowing what was happening to her. This can be assumed by the fact that she flowed down the river singing and happy when in truth she was heartbroken. Ophelia was very much afraid when she saw Hamlet "with his doublet all unbraced; no hat upon his head; his stocking fouled, ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle" (Act2, Scene2, Lines78-80). In addition to that he scared her when he left the room with his eyes still fixed...
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