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'Frailty Thy Name is Woman' How does Shakespeare present women and sex in Hamlet?

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  • Essay length: 2493 words
  • Submitted: 09/01/2009
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AS and A Level Hamlet

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'Frailty, thy name is woman.' How does Shakespeare present women and sex in 'Hamlet'?

At the beginning of Hamlet, Hamlet is reprimanded by Claudius because of grieving for his father, King Hamlet. Claudius calls Hamlet unmanly 'Of impious stubbornness, 'tis unmanly grief.' Claudius' use of the word 'Unmanly' suggests Hamlet is frail like a woman, this shows in Hamlet not just women are weak in this play but men also display forms of frailty. Claudius' use of the word 'unmanly' surely suggests Hamlet is feminine, and if Hamlet is feminine surely as a man, that also makes him weak. The phrase 'Frailty, thy name is woman,' appears in Hamlet's first soliloquy. Here Hamlet condemns Gertrude, his mother, for having a swift remarriage to his uncle, Claudius. In 'Hamlet' Shakespeare presents women as the weaker sex, used for the purpose of men's satisfaction sexually. For a woman to consider, or commit a sexual deed, it is seen as corruption. Today, a modern audience may see Hamlet's, Polonius' and Laertes' actions toward Gertrude and Ophelia as a form of sexual abuse. Women were the victims of a Patriarchal society, corrupted by sex and hated by misogynistic men. Patriarchy describes a

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