Women in Hamlet

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The Strength of Gertrude in Hamlet
Murder, treason, and deceit are common themes in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. Throughout the play the women are often viewed as weak in character as the men easily dominate them and steal the spotlight through their manic actions. The time period in which Shakespeare would have written Hamlet, women would have been treated with little respect. One woman that shows her feminine power is Gertrude, the Queen of Denmark and mother to Hamlet. Through the play it seems that Gertrude has committed more bad deeds than good, but with further examination, her actions can be seen as altruistic and loving. Queen Gertrude in Hamlet reveals her true strength through her selfless actions for both Hamlet and Denmark. With the fresh death of King Hamlet, Gertrude loses her money, power and her only chance for her son to be a successor to the throne. Instinctively, Gertrude marries the man who is King in order to gain status in Denmark. During the 16th century, a woman was only as powerful as the man to whom she was married and Gertrude knows she must protect her son. By being loyal to Claudius, the next most powerful person to her late husband, she is able to secure a position for Hamlet to be next in line for King. This act of love towards Claudius might or might not be false in the beginning, which is a selfless act on its own, but then Gertrude is able to care for Claudius as well, which proves she has loving characteristics. Throughout the play Hamlet mourns the loss of his father some two months after his death, but Claudius does not support his behavior, infuriating Hamlet. Gertrude being a woman in the 16th century, is unable to comfort Hamlet without stepping on her newly wed husband’s toes: “Good Hamlet, cast thy knighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark” (1.2. 68-69). Gertrude appears to be giving Hamlet the message that, in order for their success he must now adapt to his new surroundings...
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