Women in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”
Throughout Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” women are used as method for men to get what they want. The men in Hamlet, either directly or indirectly continuously use women to acquire something from other men. The only two women in the entire play are Gertrude and Ophelia, who are consistently used by the current king, Claudius, Polonius, and Hamlet. Ophelia is exploited by Polonius and the King (mainly together), and is also used by Hamlet. Gertrude is used by the King, as well as Polonius. In “Hamlet,” the women throughout the play are used as pawns for men to get what they want, mainly from the other men.
Ophelia is used by not only Hamlet, but also by Polonius and Claudius. Hamlet uses Ophelia after he goes mad. Ophelia is manipulated by Hamlet to display to the King and the rest of the court that he is in fact mad. When Hamlet enters her room wearing disheveled clothing and acting quite strange towards her, he knows that Ophelia will tell her father and the King. Ophelia then reports this strange occurrence to her father, telling him about his strange composure of taking her “by the wrist and” holding her hard and then “shaking” when he was about to let go. (Act 2, Scene 1 Lines 86-91) The team of Polonius and the King also exploits Ophelia in order to dig deeper into Hamlet’s madness. David Bevington agrees claiming that Ophelia is passive and thus “becomes an instrument through which Claudius attempts to spy on Hamlet.” They use Ophelia as a pawn to meet Hamlet in the hallway, so that she can talk to him and Claudius and Polonius can watch. Polonius gives Ophelia a prayer book to “color [her] loneliness” so Hamlet will not be suspicious of her walking alone around the castle. (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines45-46)
Gertrude as well is exploited by men throughout the play. Gertrude is seen as a prize to Claudius, a way for him to succeed to the thrown without having Hamlet take over. Although it is not doubted that he loves her, but he first uses her to get the kingship without question. Claudius has been wooing Gertrude even before the death of the king, which a reason for the “most wicked speed” in which they were married. (Act 1, scene...