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

How does Shakespeare portray the female characters and explore the role of women in "Hamlet" consider the response of a modern audience to this aspect of the play?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Shakespeare portray the female characters and explore the role of women in "Hamlet" consider the response of a modern audience to this aspect of the play? When reading "Hamlet" it is clear that Shakespeare portrays women as weak objects that men use for their own purposes. Without the support of a man the women seem useless and not independent unlike the women of today, who are seen as independent and able to take care of themselves. Throughout "Hamlet" Shakespeare creates the impression that without a man, women are weak and easily manipulated. A great example of this is Gertrude's quick marriage to Claudius, this produces the impression that she need a man for support and feels venerable without one. It also shows how quickly Claudius has manipulated her emotion of love for King Hamlet into love for himself making Gertrude look easily led. Hamlet makes clear his disapproval of the marriage by asking how she can go from his father to his brother, " would step from this to this". This reference is delivered in a nasty, stressed tone showing how he is using his mother to vent his anger on showing a lack of respect for her. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout "Hamlet" Shakespeare gives the males in the play a superior grip on the English language, which shows men are more intellectual than women and therefore more intelligent. Gertrude " why, how now Hamlet!" Hamlet " What's the matter now?" Gertrude "Have you forgotten me" Hamlet " No by the rood, not so, you are the Queen, your husbands brothers wife" In this passage above Hamlet takes control by asking what the matter in a tone to put down his mother and to make her feel stupid. This takes away the effection Gertrude shows for Hamlet by calling him by his name, making her look foolish as well. He then proceeds to make her feel powerless by giving an expanded answer to her simple question, putting her down again. By now he has taken control of the conversation by showing her little respect. Her only input in the conversation is by answering questions and trying to understand Hamlet, she has no control over the content of the conversation making her appear powerless. To a modern audience Hamlets treatment of his mother would cause shock due to his lack of respect for her and the fact he is controlling her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare deliberately gave her this role as it helps create the persona that women are weak objects that won't stand up to males and impression that the society at this time was dominated by males, which is true of the time but not today. A modern audience where neither sex now dominates society it would seem alien and unfair towards women. It may also create anger in female readers, as the treatment of Ophelia would be seen as barbaric and unnecessary. In conclusion I think Shakespeare makes the society in which Gertrude and Ophelia are entangled dominated by men for a good reason. By only having two poorly developed female characters it shows how in "Hamlet" women are seen as less important and weaker. Actions of the males towards the females creates a feeling of injustice towards the women characters. Although the two women are seen as objects they are strangely central to the plot, this is a contradiction that makes use more aware of the treatment they receive, this also heightens the feeling that the males are superior to the females as it show their domination of the female characters. Overall I believe Shakespeare makes the female characters weak for two reasons, one is shows the subordination of women in his society and secondly it makes Hamlets character seem more powerful and intelligent than he maybe was. ...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 Hamlet 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 Hamlet essays

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

    Shakespeare has demonstrated her chaste dependence on the men in her life; similar to Gertrude's character. Ophelia is in such a 'frail' state when in the same situation as Hamlet - their fathers both murdered - she commits suicide, which Hamlet also contemplated in his first soliloquy.

  2. Shakespeare is unable to present women other than as passive victims or deceivers of ...

    This is emphasised when Shakespeare adds terms of commercial transactions into Polonius' speech: 'at a higher rate', 'tenders for true pay', 'not stirling' 12.

  1. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    (Thanks to Hamlet, "foil" has come to mean any character who contrasts with the hero, showing up what kind of person the hero is.) Hamlet apologizes to Laertes, and blames his distracted mental state -- he wasn't himself. (There is a parallel in Romans 7-8).

  2. Free essay

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

    Immediately, we recognise Polonius' patronizing tone towards Ophelia; he talks in terms of money, as if she is something to be sold. Her weakness mentally may not be her fault as she is constantly undermined by her brother Laertes and Polonius 'Pooh, you speak like a green girl, unsifted in such perilous circumstance.

  1. Examine how Shakespeare explores the role of women in Hamlet. What might the response ...

    Flowers traditionally represent new birth and therefore innocence and naivety. Shakespeare puts Ophelia forward as the innocent, na�ve overprotected girl that wouldn't be uncommon in Elizabethan times due to restricted rights and inferiority compared to men. However, Shakespeare's portrayal of an innocent Ophelia is not a view shared by everyone.

  2. Is Hamlet mad? How does Shakespeare make his audience think about this question and ...

    He knew that they would probably interpret his behaviour as being genuinely mad because of his love for Ophelia, and this would stop them finding out about his awareness of the murder and give him time to act. He could have actually hated Ophelia and only pretended to love her

  1. Examine how Shakespeare explores the role of women in Hamlet. What might the response ...

    The bond was very important in Elizabethan times. From it we can understand why Ophelia is so obedient to Polonius; like Leverenz says, she gives way to him saying 'I shall obey, my lord'. When Laertes speaks to Ophelia he is patronising when he advises her. However she is quick to respond and implies he is being hypocritical,

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    Fearful and self-suspicious as I always feel, when I seem to see an error of judgement in Shakspere, yet I cannot reconcile the cool, and, as Warburton calls it, "rational and consequential," reflection in these lines with the anonymousness or the alarm, of this Gentleman or Messenger, as he is called in other editions.

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