Treatment of Women in Hamlet and Trifles
Of all Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays, perhaps the best known and loved is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Many people think that it is unforgettable because of its poetic language and style. But, while these are factors that mark the play as a classic, it remains timeless because it explores many of the issues that are still important to people today. These issues, including loyalty to family and country, protecting loved ones, and deception are still prevalent around the world, and are especially prominent in the United States government. Another play that addresses major issues that are still relevant to society, especially women, is Susan Glaspell’s Trifles. Because Glaspell’s play shows women that they are certainly just as capable as men of completing any task, it encourages women to take a stand against the supposed supremacy of their husbands. It also forces men to consider more seriously the opinions and concerns of women. While Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale in Trifles do this in a quiet manner, they still remain defiant against their husband’s beliefs that they are only competent enough to worry about “trifles” (Glaspell 1618). Therefore, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and Trifles explore many issues that are still relevant to society today by questioning, supporting, and criticizing some of them, especially loyalty, gender roles, protecting loved ones, and deception.
First, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark seriously questions the extent to which one should be loyal to one’s family. It obviously holds this value as one to consider seriously because it is the issue on which the play is based, Hamlet’s loyalty to his father. Thus, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark asks its readers to question whether one can stay loyal to family without harming anyone else. For instance, because the ghost of Hamlet’s father asks him to avenge his death, Hamlet plans to kill the king, but, as time goes on, he starts questioning if he should carry out his plans to be his father’s avenger. In his famous soliloquy, Hamlet asks himself, “To be or not to be, that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them?” (III. i. 56-60). Thus, Hamlet first asks himself whether he should be his father’s avenger or not. More specifically, he asks himself whether it is more righteous to silently endure the rest of his uncle’s reign as king without getting revenge, or to end his suffering by killing his uncle to get revenge as his father wants. When asking himself this question, he is also taking into account his own life and how he might be hurt by keeping his loyalty to his father:
To die, to sleep-- / No more—and by a sleep to say we end / The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to! ‘Tis a consummation / Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep-- / To sleep—perchance to...