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How does Shakespeare represent attitudes towards women in Hamlet?
In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, the protagonist Hamlet shows a negative view towards the women in his life, a view that is heavily imposed on the audience. He considers that both his mother Gertrude and Ophelia have deceived him through their actions; Gertrude married only a month after Hamlet's father's death, and Ophelia heeds her father's command not to see Hamlet despite confessing her love for him. Hamlet sees both women as fragile and too dependent on the men in their lives which make him say, “Frailty, thy name is women.”. Despite being the only two female characters, Shakespeare fails to represent them with neither a strong nor a powerful role. In Hamlet, women are shown to possess weaker characteristics than men and have nothing but a passive role due to the double standards that they are held upon during the course of the play.
The viewpoint of women is generalized from the main character, Hamlet, as he speaks to his mother Gertrude. Hamlet’s personal anger and frustration bring himself to blame Gertrude for her incestuous actions with Claudius. Must I remember? Why she would hang on him As if increase of appetite had grown "By what it fed on, and yet, within a month- Let me not think on’t. Frailty, thy name is woman!" (1.2. 143-146). Here, he is greatly bothered by her remarriage and the fact that she has seemingly no longer caring about the loss of her previous husband who was seemingly the center of her affection as you can infer from the quote; she couldn’t get enough of him. Hamlet’s experience with Gertrude results in this quote which brings him to believe that the entire female gender is morally weak. Women were also portrayed as inferior or pushed aside.
This is reflected in Gertrude’s importance in the play is limited due to her act of quickly remarrying and moving on from King Hamlet. She is depicted as a woman who used “eyes without feeling, feeling without sight” (3.4. 78), described by Hamlet, as an excuse for her choice to love Claudius. Gertrude’s character seems to be overpowered by the men around her, even though she is a queen,...