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William Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay

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William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a tragedy following the titular Danish prince as he tries to avenge his father's death at the hands of Claudius, as well as dealing with the problems he sees in himself and society. As one of Shakespeare's more well-known plays, Hamlet is capable of being approached and adapted from multiple literary directions (Thompson & Taylor 2006, 24). Hamlet is a play written from a male viewpoint therefore some assumptions that go along with this analysis is that Gertrude and Ophelia, the plays only female characters, are objectified, mistreated and given marginalized opinions and roles, while the play solely focuses upon the male characters and their experiences instead of integrating the views and impacts of these women. Therefore this paper will analyze Hamlet through a feminist lens, looking at how Ophelia and Gertrude are being looked down upon, Viewed as props, and taking a look at how grief is portrayed to be unmanly.

During the Elizabethan era, England was highly patriarchal. This is reflected in Hamlet through the ways that the male chacarters talk down upon Ophelia and Gertrude, demonstrating a relationship that (Kolodny, Pg.351) views as “asymmetrical” and favouring men. Ophelia was given no voice throughout the play this has been seen in many scenes but in one scene particular this is shown in the rudest way possible when Hamlet says “Get thee to a nunnery” (3.1.121). Implying that Ophelia should become a nun and preserve her own chastity to not bear children that are sinners. However, this did not seem to affect Ophelia at all showing us how she has no power and feelings to defend her self. This is also shown in many other scenes for example when Ophelia is talking to her father Polonius and at the very end says “ I shall obey my lord” this show us how shes just submitting to her father's command not fighting back. Shakespeare was a male writer writing in a male-dominated time where women had significantly fewer rights (Howards. P.2) and this comes to show us why Ophelia does not have a voice of her own and its because male figures at that time only viewed women in the way they knew how to view them.

Similarly, Gertrude who you would think would have a great and significant role because she is the queen, dosed not. Throughout the play, Gertrude is there to be a support to the king to be the sensible one because as we know grief was viewed as an unmanly thing so men did not show grief but Gertrude being a woman was thus allowed to show the emotion that men were not. We would have expected Gertrude to have the power over Hamlet seeing as she is his mother, but it is quite the opposite as seen in the closet scene when the Queen says “thou hast thy father much offended” (3.4.10) and he replies with “ mother you have my father much offended” (3.4.11). He is mocking his mother not caring what she has to say and further throughout this whole scene hamlet is throwing his anger out at his mother, but we don’t see Gertrude at all trying to fight back and justify her point, she's just sitting there taking all the rage hamlet has towards her.. We saw in the play how fast Gertrude remarried Claudius after her husband

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