"Hamlet": A Misogynist?

Essay by illicitHigh School, 12th gradeA, June 2006

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Shakespeare's literature has given his audience the grounds to believe that his tragic hero Hamlet is somewhat of a misogynist. A misogynist can be defined as a man who shows exaggerated aversion towards women. The word "misogynist" comes from ancient Greek words "misein" meaning hate and "gyne" meaning women. Hamlet's demeanor leads the reader to believe that Shakespeare could have shared the same views as his protagonist Hamlet. In the play, there are many examples of speech from Hamlet, which convey misogynic beliefs. These quotes are directed at both his mother, Gertrude, and to some extent his "love," Ophelia. Hamlets remarks at the two women in his life can lead a reader to believe he is a misogynist.

The way Ophelia is treated by Hamlet shows his vision towards all women. He treats Ophelia as just another women as he judges her like the rest, who are all the same.

He says "Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them" (Act 3, Scene 1, Line 136-138). The way Hamlet speaks to Ophelia in the play shows his belief of how women manipulate the men in his society at the time. When Hamlet says "if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them," he generalizes women in two different views. In one sense, he is stating that all women seduce men as a way to get what they want or in other words, manipulation. The other way to look at this statement is by taking the comment on marriage, and interpreting it as how all women believe that they can trick their foolish husbands, and cheat on them. Hamlet considers marriage a trap for men set by...