The Role of Women in "Hamlet"

Essay by selenebloodlustCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2007

download word file, 6 pages 5.0

Women: Victims of their Gender RoleThe fair, generous, and gentle character known as Nancy is beaten to death by her alcoholic and villainous husband in the literary classic Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. Two devotchkas of no more than twelve years are savagely given the old in-out-in-out by a voracious teenager known simply as Alex, the main character in Anthony Burgess’ novel, A Clockwork Orange. The list of females treated similarly in other famous and acclaimed literary works grows exceedingly and disturbingly long – dating back to the time man had hardly begun to write. This ill-treatment of females is illustrated further upon the stage, where the images and words are made more poignant by gifted actors. William Shakespeare was an especially astounding playwright, and brought these tragic images before thousands over the years in his humble Globe Theatre. In one of his most famous plays, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Shakespeare represents the female gender through the characters of The Queen and Ophelia, illuminating the fact that even when in positions of high status females cannot escape victimization by their self-centered male counterparts.

Some playgoers are suspicious when it comes to the issues of whether or not The Queen was aware of her husband’s murder and whether or not Hamlet and Ophelia were deeply involved. None of this is ever explicitly revealed in the text – Shakespeare merely gives hints to the reality and expects the viewer to decide for himself what the truth is. There is more evidence in what he does tell the audience supporting The Queen’s innocence and Ophelia’s deep love than there are clues directing towards the opposite. Hamlet is a wily character and decides to put on a play before his fake father, re-inventing how he believes Claudius killed his true...