"Frality Thy Name Is Woman" Essay

1834 words - 7 pages

The term “woman” is defined in the dictionary as an adult female human being having characteristics such as courtesy, kindness, gentility, and nurturing abilities. They are bearers of children and so forth on. Women are considered the opposite sex of men and in past times as slaves of men. Women have many rights in these days. Women can work, vote, and handle things just as men can. In the past, women were seen as just mothers and just housekeeper. Women were always taught to respect, listen, and serve their husbands or father if they were not married. In the past, this was considered a standard, therefore women had no choice, but to obey and do as they were told. In Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays a similar relationship between men and women. He allows men to hold the higher position in the drama. Women are treated as lesser people, and the belief that women should listen to them, and do as men tell them to, is upheld throughout the play. Women are portrayed in one of two ways; virtuous or promiscuous. Shakespeare uses the character Hamlet to exhibit how men in this era view women. The two main female characters in this play are Gertrude and Ophelia. Shakespeare and Hamlet portray women as either pure, like Ophelia, or impure, like Gertrude. The real question is why do women seem to impact the actions and thoughts of the main character, Hamlet, so much? This research topic, “Frailty thy name is woman”, asks us to look at Hamlet’s view of these two women.
Hamlet appears to have a lot of serious issues with the important women in his life throughout this drama. Reasonably enough, Hamlet has issues with just about everyone in his life, men or women alike. There are only two female roles in the play; therefore, interpreting whether Hamlet is a misogynist (woman-hater) or not can be somewhat difficult. The quote, “Frailty thy name is woman,” is spoken by Hamlet after the ceremony of the king and queen’s marriage. He reiterates how his mother quickly marries his uncle almost immediately after his father’s apparent obsolete death.
The primary female role is Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, to whom Hamlet was usually very close with. However, he developed anger towards her over her lack of mourning over the death of her husband and Hamlet's father. The portrayal of Gertrude throughout the first three acts of the play is that she is impure or “dirty”. Her visage is best described as corrupted, betrayed and immodest. She is considered the “new-self”, which means she is at loss for innocence. When Hamlet talks about Gertrude, he talks about his hate for her, and when Claudius talks about Gertrude he never speaks about love. This is evident in Act 1 scene 2, when Claudius does not justify his marriage to Gertrude, he only talks about how she is good in bed and refers to her sexuality more than her inner self. Gertrude is enjoyed by Claudius and condemned by Hamlet. For this reason, every female relationship in the future will be negative for Hamlet because of...

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