An Exploration Of Femininity I Essay

3413 words - 14 pages

An exploration of Femininity in Shakespeare's Tragedies.(Hamlet).In a patriarchal structured society femininity and the female are restricted or defined by the socio-cultural precepts imposed by the male hegemony. Therefore, in order to examine the feminine as presented in Hamlet and other plays, I believe, we must have at the fore-front of our minds the masculine system which surrounds the feminine. For this reason, I propose the most satisfactory means of examining the role of the female is by comparison with that of the male. In order to examine the notion of friendship, bonding and duty between men and women and in purely male relationships, I intend to establish a number of comparisons to demonstrate the importance of the real/ ideal dichotomy in the presentation and social acceptance of women.The comparisons I shall make are between: Hamlet and Horatio, and Hamlet and Ophelia; Hamlet and his father, set against Hamlet and Gertrude. These comparisons, I believe, demonstrate the power of male bonding, and show male/female relationships are formulaic in character, defining the woman by categories. Femininity, symbolic of sexual potency and control, must be determined by the male hierarchy.II Hamlet has an ambivalent relationship with Horatio. Hamlet, at first, distances himself from Horatio, and is wary of placing too much trust in his friend. Indeed, Horatio recognises the individual nature of the Ghost's plight, and implicitly, therein, Hamlet's task: It beckons you to go away with it, As if it some impartment did desire To you alone.(1.4.58-60) Hamlet also refuses to confide in his friend, believing that Horatio would not be able to comprehend his predicament, that the dilemma presented by the Ghost would not adequately fit into Horatio's "philosophy" (1.6.166-7). However, Horatio has numerous characteristics which endear him to Hamlet: most notably, Horatio represents the Ghost's herald and therefore knows of its significance, while remaining a point-of-contact wholly external to the distressed father-son relationship. This fact is highlighted when Hamlet finally decides to confide in his friend; Hamlet mentions that Horatio is "not a pipe for Fortune's finger/ To sound what stop she pleases" (3.2.70-1). This is echoed in Hamlet's fear that Guildenstern "would play upon me;/[that he] would seem to know my stops" (3.2.373-4). For Hamlet, by the Ghost's commands, has become "easier to be played on than a pipe" (376). Therefore, Horatio distinguishes himself in friendship from that of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, but also Hamlet himself by not being fallible to Fortune's play .But the bonding between Horatio and Hamlet is not purely defined by the Ghost, or Hamlet's inadequacies. There is also the question of his masculinity. Horatio is let into Hamlet's confidence with the lines: ... Give me that man That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of hearts, As I do thee.(3.2.71-4) Horatio acts in very...

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