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Examine Hamlet's Relationship with Gertrude & Ophelia in light of the comment 'Frailty thy name is woman'.

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Introduction

Examine Hamlet's Relationship with Gertrude & Ophelia in light of the comment 'Frailty thy name is woman'. At the beginning of the play, during Hamlet's first soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates suicide because he is so furious with his mother for marrying Claudius within a month of his father's death. This is when Hamlet comments, 'frailty thy name is woman' to express his bitter feelings towards his mother for not only the speed of her remarriage and betrayal of his father, but the 'dexterity to incestuous sheets'. The situation, and Hamlet's reaction to it, is a trigger of an increasing negative attitude towards all women, viewing them as weak. It is shown through his relationships with Gertrude and Ophelia. The audience learn through the other characters that Hamlet has shown affections towards Ophelia; whether they are genuine and lasting feelings is uncertain as Leartes advices Ophelia that they are not. Leartes asks Ophelia to 'hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood;/ A violet in the youth of primary nature.' Leartes not only says that Hamlet's feeling towards Ophelia is short-lived nonsense of his youth but highlights that 'for he himself is subject to his birth'. ...read more.

Middle

Conception is a blessing, but not as your daughter may conceive'. This echoes Hamlet's comment that 'frailty thy name is woman' as the punning suggests women are improper and easily influenced. In Hamlet's next meeting with Ophelia he is harsh towards her and denies sending her letters but speaks abruptly to her, making connections between chastity, beauty and immorality. He repudiates Ophelia, the woman he once claimed to love, in the harshest terms and urges her to go to a nunnery as she 'wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners' and comments unfavourably on the flirtatious tricks of women such as 'lisp' and 'nickname'. Hamlet says 'we will have no more marriage', this is not only because he believes women make 'monsters' of their husbands but the resent of his mother's marriage to Claudius is also implied. When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are sent to find out what is troubling Hamlet he feels betrayed his mother as his mother and Claudius are together plotting together ways spying on Hamlet; his mother is being led by Claudius. He goes on to say that he has lost all interest in life, 'Man/ delights not me; no, nor woman either'. ...read more.

Conclusion

He fights with Laertes, saying that 'forty thousand brothers / Could not, with all their quantity of love, / make up my sum'. This shows that his despise of women could not overcome his love for Ophelia in the same way that Hamlet had trusted his mother to believe he is not mad but not tell Claudius that is an act, even though he had felt betrayed by her throughout the play. Therefore, Hamlet was shattered by his mother's decision to marry Claudius so soon after her husband's death, Hamlet becomes cynical about women in general, showing a particular obsession with what he perceives to be a connection between female sexuality and moral corruption. This motif of misogyny, or hatred of women, occurs sporadically throughout the play, but it is an important inhibiting factor in Hamlet's relationships with Ophelia and Gertrude. He urges Ophelia to go to a nunnery rather than experience the corruptions of sexuality and exclaims of Gertrude, 'Frailty, thy name is woman'. Gertrude seems to have a powerful instinct for self-preservation and advancement that leads her to rely too deeply on men much like Ophelia who is also submissive and utterly dependent on men. As these are the only two significant women in Hamlet's life it is easy for him to conclude that 'frailty thy name is women'. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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