Hamlet- The Role Of Women Essay, Research Paper
Today women have many rights. We can vote, work, and even voice our own opinions. In the past women were seen as mothers and housekeepers, always taught to respect, listen, and serve there husbands or the man of the house. In those days this was considered normal, therefore women had no choice but to obey and do as they were told. In Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays a similar relationship between women and men. He allows men to hold the higher position in the causing, them to treat women as lesser people and believed that women should listen to them and do as they were told.
Ophelia a young women in Hamlet, she represents how women are treated. Ophelia obeys several different men in the play. One of the men is Hamlet. Ophelia is sixteen much younger than Hamlet, Hamlet is twenty one and in college. The Maturity of each persons mind depends on there age. Ophelia is a woman who has been taught to believe and listen to men such as her father. When she is now faced with wether to believe Hamlet or doubt his love for she once again she disregards her feelings and trusts Hamlet. Hamlet pursued Ophelia, he saw a young women whome he could satisfy him self with. In the play Hamlet does not court ophelia the only place they are together is in Ophelia?s bedroom "He hath, my lord, of late made tenders Of his affection to me"(pg 17 line 99). Hamlet visits her bedroom at night and makes love to her. Ophelia believes this a relationship but is too young to know what a real relationship is. Hamlet writes her letters to make her believe that letters are a representation of Love. Ophelia did not refuse Hamlet everything that Hamlet wanted from Ophelia he got. She stops thinking for herself and allows men to think for her. Ophelia allows Hamlet to "make love to her" because Hamlet wants to. Men in those days had a great deal of power. Women were not thought of being much more than lovers and house keepers, there minds belonged to there men. Ophelia does not know wether the relationship was ever real. Hamlet is another man controlling her to make her believe that he really loved her. like her father, he can control her mind and make her believe what he wants her to.
Another man she obeys is her father, Polonius, Lord Chamberlain. In the play she believes her father has her life in his hands, she will never doubt or disobey anything she is told "Tis in my memory locked, And you yourself shall keep the key of it"(pg 17 line 85). Ophelia is in love with Hamlet. She shares herself with him and is beginning a relationship, she wants to be with hamlet and believes he loves her "My lord, he hath importuned me with his love in honorable fashion"(pg 17 line 110). Polonius instructs Ophelia to stop seeing Hamlet. Polonius states that Hamlet doesn?t really love her and is only with her for one thing, and as soon as he gets enough he will want no more.
Pol. Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know, When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tounge vows. These blazes, daughter,
Giving more light than heat, extinct in both
Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
You must not take for fire. From this time
Be something scanter of your maiden presence.
Polonius believes that the fire that is burning within Hamlet fro his daughter will soon go out. Then Ophelia would loose here "maiden presence" her pure self. Ophelia does not believe this is true but trust her father enough to disregard what she feels and listen to her father," I shall obey, my lord" (pg18 line 136).
Ophelia reaches a point where she can not think for herself and relies on her father to think for her. She subdues her feelings for a man she loves for another man whom she allows to control her life, unlike woman now.
Pol. Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl, Unsifted in such perilous circumstances.
Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?
OPH. I do not know, my lord, what should I think.
Ophelia discontinues her relationship with Hamlet with no questions asked.
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark is another women in the play that represents how women were treated. Gertrude is much older than Ophelia but she portrays similar behavior. In Gertrudes situation age did not play a role. Gertrudes husband has recently died; Hamlets father. After two months she quickly married his brother. Hamlet states:
"thy name is women-
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father?s body
Like Niobe, all tears, why she-
O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer-married with my uncle,
My fathers brother, but no more like my father
Gertrude as well a Ophelia could not think for her self. She allowed the king Claudis -her deceased husbands brother- to convince her to marry him. While hamlet mourns his fathers death Gertrude is already remarried and over her late husbands death. Gertrude allowed Claudius to change her mind from mourning her husband to loving him. Claudius made Gertrude believe that there was nothing wrong with loving him so soon after her husbands death. Her son Hamlet trys to show her how wrong it is but it is a s though she can not see through her own eyes she agrees with Claudius and repeat whatever his oppinions are.
Queen. I doubt it is no other but the main,
His father?s death and our o?erhasty marriage
(pg 39 line 56).
Here the queen does not care whether her own son is hurt by her marriage. She seems to be heartless when she should be full of heart warming feelings. As a women in the play she allowed Claudius to instill his views in her. And just like Ophelia she subdues her feelings and allows a man-Claudius- to make his opinion an feelings hers.
In making Hamlet I believed that Shakespear gave men the higher position in the play. Such as the title of the book Hamlet who is also the prince in the play. Most of the main characters in the play are men. The role of the women in the play existed in all the characters in the play. Women were portrayed as slow, weak, neurotic characters who were easily led astray and were easily controlled. Maybe Shakespear did not believe in women as strong characters due to the age he lived in but, now in the year 2000 this is un heard of.