Shakespeare's Portrayal Of Women Essay

1158 words - 5 pages

As Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, the fiction was set in the Renaissance era and therefore the persona of women was reflective of that period. The natural stereotype of that time viewed women as weak, fickle, and dependent of the men in their society and subject to the decisions that men make for them. It was an exceedingly common depiction and very rarely was it proven wrong to the men of that time. Women’s rights were nonexistent in this time period so it wasn’t unusual for the portrayal of women to be so negative and offensive. Given that women of that age had known nothing else they attempted to fit the stereotype to please the ‘natural order’.
The role women played in Hamlet was complicated. Their distinct purpose as characters in the tragedy was to illustrate Hamlet’s warped view of women and give the audience an obvious understanding of Hamlets madness and distress. Hamlets strong unwavering judgment of women was caused by his mother. He had been delusional about women by Gertrude’s actions. He is consumed by the absurdity of his mother’s love for his uncle and is justified to feel disgust towards his mother, her actions and implications and in doing so provoked hamlet’s unforgivable treatment of all women as a whole. Although Hamlet gives off the illusion that Shakespeare is enormously disgusted by the female race Hamlet’s outlook doesn’t really reflect Shakespeare’s attitude of women.
In Gertrude’s choice to marry so soon after her husband’s death she transgresses the patriarchal bound of femininity. She refuses to remain in passive grief and obedient devotion to his memory. Gertrude’s sin was her inaction. She was willing to accept Claudius and didn’t think twice of rejecting him. In Hamlet’s eyes his father was the very definition of pureness and good while Claudius is his exact opposite and because his mother replaces his father without so much as objecting the proposal ruins and destroys his somewhat tolerant view of women. In Gertrude’s decision she proves that she is willing to go against society to obtain her perfect life.
Gertrude’s solution to the problems of her life is to lie. She lies to herself about the consequences of her actions, and she lies to those around her. The purpose of her deceitfulness is to protect. Her lies are not cruel they are considered white lies that she feels she must commit to, to keep her and those around her physically and emotionally safe. On the surface it is complicated to comprehend why Hamlet, his father, and Claudius all have such a deep devotion for Gertrude but the qualities that save her and Claudius from condemnation are subtly woven among the plot of the tragedy. She loves Hamlet and beneath her shallow exterior, shows great emotion when he confronts her. Gertrude honestly doesn’t realize why Hamlet is so furious with her until he reveals the truth and only then does she realize the injustice of her actions. “O speak to me no more. These words like daggers enter my ears. No more, sweet...

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