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Hamlet: Does Shakespeare have a Profound dislike of women?

Uploaded by jw_ian on Jan 06, 2002

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it can be argued that the playwright shows a profound dislike of women. I agree with this opinion; it can be seen through their actions in the play, the way they are treated and general phrases and monologues on their weaknesses and flaws that are scattered throughout the play.

The two main female characters in Hamlet are Ophelia, Hamlet’s lover, the daughter of the king’s prime minister Polonius, and Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, the widow of the old king Hamlet and the wife of the current king of Denmark; Claudius.

Both of these characters commit sins against the rules of the Catholic religion, and show a general weakness in character.

Ophelia shows the weakness of her character by not being able to cope with her father’s death at the hands of Hamlet, going insane as a result of the unbearable loss. She then sins against the laws of the Catholic religion by committing suicide, a grievous sin. Though she is buried as if her death was an accident, so that she might still go to heaven, it is clear from the words of the characters involved that she has, in fact, taken her own life as the gravedigger says in act 5 scene 1 lines 9-11:

“If I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three branches – it is to act, to do, to perform. argal, she drowned herself wittingly.”

Gertrude shows the weakness of her character by her adultery, by her “incestuous marriage to her brother in law”, and by the fact that she could not or would not wait longer than such a short period of time before marrying Claudius (which shows a disregard and a lack of respect for her son’s feelings). Her adultery before the old king Hamlet’s death and her marriage to Claudius thereafter are both sins against the Catholic religion.

So Shakespeare shows that he believes women are fundamentally weak in character and conscience by having his female characters fall prey to their selfish urges and wants. He also punishes them thoroughly for their actions by subjecting them to cruel treatment at the hands of Hamlet in the play, rather than sympathizing with the difficult reality they are faced with. For example, Hamlet is most unkind to Ophelia during their conversation in act 3 scene 1 lines 114-116:

“Hamlet - I did love you once.

Ophelia- indeed my lord you made me believe so.


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Uploaded by:   jw_ian

Date:   01/06/2002

Category:   Hamlet

Length:   3 pages (669 words)

Views:   2071

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