An exploration of femininity i

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

download word file, 14 pages 0.0

Downloaded 19 times

An exploration of Femininity in Shakespeare's Tragedies.


In a patriarchal structured society femininity and the female are restricted or defined by the socio-cultural precepts imposed by the male hegemony. Therefore, in order to examine the feminine as presented in Hamlet and other plays, I believe, we must have at the fore-front of our minds the masculine system which surrounds the feminine. For this reason, I propose the most satisfactory means of examining the role of the female is by comparison with that of the male. In order to examine the notion of friendship, bonding and duty between men and women and in purely male relationships, I intend to establish a number of comparisons to demonstrate the importance of the real/ ideal dichotomy in the presentation and social acceptance of women.

The comparisons I shall make are between: Hamlet and Horatio, and Hamlet and Ophelia; Hamlet and his father, set against Hamlet and Gertrude.

These comparisons, I believe, demonstrate the power of male bonding, and show male/female relationships are formulaic in character, defining the woman by categories. Femininity, symbolic of sexual potency and control, must be determined by the male hierarchy.

II Hamlet has an ambivalent relationship with Horatio. Hamlet, at first, distances himself from Horatio, and is wary of placing too much trust in his friend. Indeed, Horatio recognises the individual nature of the Ghost's plight, and implicitly, therein, Hamlet's task: It beckons you to go away with it, As if it some impartment did desire To you alone.

(1.4.58-60) Hamlet also refuses to confide in his friend, believing that Horatio would not be able to comprehend his predicament, that the dilemma presented by the Ghost would not adequately fit into Horatio's "philosophy" (1.6.166-7). However, Horatio has numerous characteristics which endear him to Hamlet: most notably, Horatio represents...