Hamlet is about Prince Hamlet’s misperceptions that women are morally Corrupt. Hamlet’s misperceptions originate from Gertrude’s inappropriate behavior and ignorance and Ophelia’s malleable behavior, and throughout the play Hamlet is rude and cynical to the two main female characters. Hamlet makes a sweeping generalization based on his Mother Gertrude and Ophelia that all women are morally corrupt, and in doing so he demonstrates a lack of trust in Gertrude that contributes to his madness and leads him to more trouble.
The first time Hamlet is seen in the play he is angry at his mother for remarrying his uncle right after the death of her late husband, King Hamlet. Hamlet comments on his mother’s quick remarriage “Within a month, ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married. O, most wicked speed, to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not, nor it cannot come to good” (Shakespeare, 1.2.152-156). To Hamlet, his father deserves more than about 3 months of mourning, and by remarrying Claudius so quickly, she dishonored the memory of King Hamlet. Queen Gertrude’s action was sinful and illegal and Hamlet had a right to believe Gertrude was morally corrupt. In addition to expressing his anger towards Gertrude, he makes the sweeping statement that all women are morally corrupt by proclaiming “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (Shakespeare, 1.2.146). Hamlet’s opinion of his mother continually grows worse when a ghost tells Hamlet of his mother’s adulterous behavior and his uncle’ murder. Although Hamlet promises to seek revenge on King Claudius for murdering his father, he is at first more concerned with the ghost's words regarding Gertrude. King Hamlet tells Hamlet not to be concerned with his mother but after the apparition leaves, it is the first thing Hamlet speaks of. Before vowing to get revenge for his father, he comments on the sins his mother committed.
It is clear Hamlet, though only pretending, really does go mad, and this amplifies his anger towards his mother. During Act 3 Scene 4, Hamlet truly demonstrates his feelings toward his own mother. Hamlet blames his inability to love on Gertrude for her unforgivable deed, and yells at her. Hamlet accuses her of “Such an act that blurs the grace and blush of modesty, calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose from the fair forehead of an innocent love and sets a blister there” (Act 3.4.) Gertrude has apparently caused Hamlet to see all women differently because she has deprived him of his innocence and his love for women. For this and because he believes Gertrude was involved in King Hamlet’s death, Prince Hamlet has lost all respect and expectations of his Mother Gertrude.
Hamlet carries his feelings of hatred of his mother to his opinion of Ophelia, because she has ruined Hamlet’s ability to love. Hamlet and Ophelia loved each other early on in the play, but Ophelia is told by her father to break all contact with him. Hamlet goes to Ophelia on the brink of a breakdown, partly caused by his mother's infidelities. When he turns to his lover for support, his mother's lesson are reinforced and through her actions, Ophelia confirms in Hamlet's mind that women can not be trusted even though Ophelia was only following her father’s orders. Now distrusting Ophelia, they meet again when Prince Hamlet knows Polonius is spying on their conversation. With Ophelia failing to admit her purpose of the conversation, he now calls Ophelia a liar. At that point, he thought all women were adulterous and could not be trusted, like his mother. He then says “Get thee to a nunnery, farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell” (Shakespeare, Act 3.1.124-127). Hamlet is being very cruel, referring to her as a prostitute. But not only is he insulting Ophelia, but women in general because now, all women are the same to him.
Prince Hamlet is a young witty man, and he is quick to assumptions and generalizations. Clearly, he has assumed that women are associated with moral corruption, which stun his relationships with Gertrude and Ophelia. His frustration while conversing with them leads them to believe that he is crazy, supporting Claudius’ cause to have him exported to England and killed. Works cited:
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New Clarendon Shakespeare edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965.