The Women In "Hamlet"

Essay by carashepardHigh School, 12th gradeA, April 2007

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In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, there is a big difference between the genders. The men are portrayed as wise, and powerful, and the women are portrayed as followers who obey the men close to them. There are two female characters in the play, Ophelia and Gertrude. Ophelia is Hamlet's former love and dependent on her father Polonius and brother Laertes on how to behave. Gertrude is Hamlet's mother, who foolishly marries Claudius, who is Hamlet's uncle. Shakespeare's demeaning of women in Hamlet is different than his portrayal of women in comedies.

Hamlet's plot and theme is based on the actions of the men, and the women following and causing more problems for the men. Gertrude marries Claudius, in spite of Hamlet's concerns. She also follows orders given by Claudius in the way that her son is treated instead of standing up for her son and making decisions on her own.

Ophelia, Hamlet's former love follows her father's demands in spying on Hamlet. The women in Hamlet are always shown following men and making foolish decisions. The women's roles in the development of the plot in Hamlet are much different then Shakespeare's comedies. In The Taming of the Shrew, Katherine's strong behaviour forms the plot. In the beginning, she is the opposite of what Gertrude and Ophelia are. Katherine does not obey any man, not even her own father. At the end of the play, she becomes more obedient to her husband Petruchio, but still maintains her position in their relationship. Shakespeare has shown variation in the types of women that he has in his plays, the women in tragedies as problems, to empowering women in comedies as main plots.

The character development in Hamlet is very different to the character development...