• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine Shakespeares presentation of women in Hamlet. Show how far your appreciation and understanding of this aspect of Hamlet have been informed by your study of the The Revengers Tragedy.

Extracts from this document...


Examine Shakespeare?s presentation of women in Hamlet. Show how far your appreciation and understanding of this aspect of Hamlet have been informed by your study of the The Revenger?s Tragedy. The presentation of women in both Hamlet and The Revenger?s Tragedy is fundamental in conditioning the audience?s response to the main characters of the play. Though there are only two female characters in Hamlet, Gertrude and Ophelia, their actions and the response of Hamlet towards them is essential in enhancing our understanding of the protagonist and the misogynistic attitudes of men at the time. Similarly, in The Revenger?s Tragedy, women are presented on a moral spectrum from the virtuous (Castiza) to the immoral (The Duchess), with Vindice?s mother, Gratiana, seems for a time to move towards the corruption of The Duchess, but this movement only serves to reveal the schematic treatment of women in the play. During the period in which the two plays were set, there was widespread agreement about the ideals and values that women should embody, many of these linking with the Christian values of the time, and these ideals made women easily susceptible to attack and scrutiny, but also effective symbols within the two plays. ...read more.


In his soliloquy, Hamlet expresses his disdain towards his mother ?to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets?. This is said even before the Ghost appears and when the Ghost of Old Hamlet does appear, he confirms this ? saying that Claudius ?won by lustful sin, the heart of my most seeming virtuous queen?. These words not only highlight the fickleness and shallowness of Gertrude, but they are also important in expressing Hamlet?s and possibly Shakespeare?s misogyny. Women are characterized in a one dimensional manner ? they cannot live without a man and constantly need one in their lives. Gertrude?s ?o?er hasty marriage? to Claudius exemplifies this. Gertrude?s passivity in action is what allows her to be dominated and controlled by the men in her life, but she is also somewhat ignorant and oblivious to her surroundings. According to Hamlet, she played the part of the grieving widow well ? ?she followed my poor father?s body, like Niobe, all tears?. However, Gertrude?s redeeming feature is her propensity for goodness. She is by no means calculating ? unlike her husband and indeed her son. ...read more.


Women are in many ways given a paradoxical role within both Hamlet and TRT. The women of Shakespeare?s Hamlet are characterised as weak and ineffectual. They submit to their male counterparts and are led by them. Both Ophelia and Gertrude are fiercely obedient, as they are controlled by the men in their lives. They play passive roles in the play, but are key to exposing the titular character?s distorted view of a woman. Hamlet speaks of the deceptive nature of women, but must also trust his mother not to reveal his feigned madness to Claudius. One explanation for Hamlet?s madness in the play is his offence in Gertrude?s marriage to Claudius, whom he doesn?t view as an adequate father. In TRT, Vindice speaks endlessly of the immorality of women, of The Duchess ?That will do with the devil?. On the other hand, female virtue is the essential justification for his revenge. He must in the virtue of Gloriana or be utterly lost. In order to believe in Gloriana, he must also believe in the chastity of his sister. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    He was burned when his helicopter crashed - a crash engineered by the man with whose wife he was having an affair. Almasy is a slippery, cryptic character, and is not particularly adept at self-examination. The characters seem to live through him, using him to heal their own wounds, as

  2. Ambition in "The Duchess of Malfi" and "Paradise Lost"

    However, it is this in which he discovers his longing and the ability of not being free, chains remaining unbreakable; he is unable to conquer his ambition, which has caused his maddening, wild grief. Milton describes Satan's Hell - "no light but rather darkness visible served only to discover the

  1. Analyse Shakespeares presentation of the theme of betrayal in Hamlet and show how far ...

    Although Vindice believes that his mother has betrayed him, it is he who instigated such betrayal by attempting to "try the faith of both." Moreover, Gratiana's aim is not to betray her daughter or her sons "by corrupting the image they hold of their mother as morally pure), but it

  2. ‘The Love Song Of J. Alfred. Prufrock’ by T.S Eliot and ‘My Last ...

    This leads us to wonder that, if these were the Duke's expectations and he found her behaviour so unacceptable, then why did he not talk to her about it. The Duke's answer to that is, `who'd stoop to blame that sort of trifling?'

  1. Comparing the Role of Women in Sense and Sensibility and Othello

    Emilia steals Desdemona's handkerchief which was Othello's first love token given to Desdemona, thereby the handkerchief is a symbol of Othello's love. Emilia steals the handkerchief because Iago asks her to steal it so many times, but she does not know why he wants it so bad.

  2. Explore the relationship between Shakespeares Macbeth and the version produced in the BBCs Shakespeare ...

    In the drama, the audience gets their first viewing of Joe when he reaches into the fridge and drinks a bottle of milk. This follows along Lady Macbeths lines that he is drinking milk therefore he is still at his more soft nature.

  1. How is Madness presented through the protagonist in The Yellow Wallpaper compared to The ...

    The fact that the Narrator doesn?t have a name reinforces the idea that she is speaking as the voice of women collectively, rather than as an individual, also furthering this point is that the only reason she is confined is because of her gender.

  2. How far can a feminist reading be applied to The Yellow Wallpaper?

    Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper ?to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked?9: cloistered women could become mentally disturbed as a self-fulfilling prophecy through domestic boredom, being denied individual original thought.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work