Topics: Gender role, Gender, Characters in Hamlet Pages: 3 (1289 words) Published: September 11, 2014
Hamlet, Polonius and Laertes’ characters towards Gertrude and Ophelia where they are constructed as being weak, obedient and dependent on men. Attitudes to gender have changed since Elizabethan times and the writing of Shakespeare’s Hamlet; however they remain highly pertinent to our understanding of roles and relationships in society. The discourse of gender within Hamlet conforms to the Elizabethan era but challenges a contemporary audience. When reading and analysing Hamlet, contemporary audiences need to understand that gender roles and responsibilities in society have evolved significantly since Elizabethan times. As a character, Gertrude is defeminised by the patriarchal society by being depicted as weak, obedient and dependent on men. Her dependence on men is portrayed when she marries Claudius within two months of King Hamlet’s death. In a patriarchal society, Gertrude couldn’t lead on her own as Queen as men were considered to be the leaders and women their inferiors, therefore Gertrude couldn’t spare any time to grieve over her late husband, for she must find another man to depend on, who turns out to be her husband's brother, Claudius. Although Gertrude is a queen, and a woman of high status and power, she is not treated so due to the social norms of the Elizabethan Era. Gertrude is never truly given the respect that she deserves as royalty because she is a woman, and that is what the men in the play see her as. Gertrude’s actions of marrying Claudius within two months of King Hamlet’s death are depicted as a sign of weakness and a lack of dependence which are particularly highlighted within Hamlet’s first monologue, in Act I Scene ii, where his demeanour towards his mother is malicious and cold: …But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two…

Let me not think on’t: Frailty, thy name is woman!
Hamlet is referring to his mother but his comment is also aimed at women, proclaiming that defencelessness and weakness are imperfections that are found...
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