Gender Roles In Hamlet Essay

1872 words - 7 pages

In Hamlet, gender plays a huge role in the assumed capability of people. Queen Gertrude had to remarry instead of rule the kingdom by herself. If she wouldn’t have gotten remarried, it would have been likely that her kingdom would have been usurped by a chauvinist male ruler; who felt that women couldn’t rule a kingdom.
The only other female in the play is Ophelia, and she isn’t allowed to see Hamlet because her dad said so, but her brother Laertes whined until he got to go to another country! That illustrates how unfair Polonius is to women, and that he feels because she is a girl she is his possession. Since she is his possession, he feels he is owed complete control of her.
However, in all fairness, it is not just Hamlet and Polonius who are narrow-minded about women’s rights; all the men are. Claudius orders the queen around, and without her, he wouldn’t be king. Hamlet basically tells his mom (Queen Gertrude) to shut up and sit down, and Laertes tells Ophelia that he holds the key to her mind.
Since Hamlet is notoriously the worst to the female sex, we will start with the assault on his character. Hamlet said "Frailty, thy name is woman,“ thus Hamlet believes his men are the epitome of stability and strength, right? Not really, but Hamlet's attitude toward women is definitely sexist and biased, and his hate seems to emanate from his revulsion at his mother's marriage to Claudius, which he considers “unfaithfulness” to his dead father. His attitude is totally unjustified.

“Frailty thy name is woman,” is the summary of the feelings towards women for the entire play. Gertrude cannot spare any time to grieve over her late husband; she must find another man to rule the kingdom. That man turns out to be her late husband's brother, Claudius. All Gertrude did was get remarried for the betterment of the kingdom, which Hamlet felt was unfair, for some unknown reason. Gertrude is a Queen, and Hamlet has no right to be angry with her. Hamlet's attitude toward women reveals more about him and the men of his time, than it does about the woman of this era’s true nature.
As a consequence of this hatred, Hamlet clearly doesn't trust women. He says that they are two-faced and confusing. He even had the audacity to say:
"God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. You jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nickname God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't. It hath made me mad. I say we will have no more marriages. Those that are married already --all but one-- shall live. The rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go,"
to Ophelia. Translated to modern English, that means that women are deceitful, and they should live in a nunnery, and not have any more marriages. Clearly, he is traumatized by what his mother “did” to his father, and is through with all women. His way of dealing with his frustration appears extreme.
Ophelia didn’t do anything to Hamlet, but Hamlet presumes that if his own...

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