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To what extent do you feel that the presentation of Gertrude and Ophelia now create much more sympathy than in Shakespeare's time.

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Introduction

To what extent do you feel that the presentation of Gertrude and Ophelia now create much more sympathy than in Shakespeare's time In Shakespeare's time a woman's status in society was very much based upon their fathers or husbands success. This subsidiary status was based on religious conceptions of hierarchy whereby according to the medieval church, 'Adam was created first, and Eve from his body; she was created specifically to give him comfort, and was to be subordinate to him, to obey him and to accept her lesser status.' Furthermore, it was also based on the renaissance stereotype of women, which was split between the Virgin Mary and the Whore of Babylon. The Virgin Mary being represented by Ophelia to show her innocence and purity, and the Whore of Babylon by Gertrude to show her impurity and experience. These misconceptions show that although Shakespeare uses Gertrude to portray his view of women he does not highlight the naivety of Ophelia's character and is instead clouded by the idea of imperfection within Gertrude's character. The concept of equality between the sexes was non-existent in Shakespeare's time. Renaissance and Medieval literature was often misogynistic so there was a general distrust of women, which is portrayed in 'Hamlet.' ...read more.

Middle

However, Ophelia's relationship with Laertes is much less strict than with Polonius in the sense that she seems to feel more comfortable around him than Polonius and tends to listen to him more. She promises to take his advice by telling him that she, "shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart." However, at the beginning of the scene Laertes goes straight into his advice when he tells her, "My necessaries are embarked." He does not show her any brotherly love and is straight to the point, which makes him seem cold and unaffectionate. There is an extensive use of shared lines between the start of Laertes and Ophelia's discussion: (Laertes) "No more." (Ophelia) "No more but so?" This method helps to emphasize the power relationship between the two characters. He speaks first then she follows with her short and general answers to his long speech, which highlights her natural carelessness of innocence. It seems as though he is undermining her when he gives her advice. Although, she acknowledges and accepts his control over her as she tells him his advice, "Tis in my memory locked, and you yourself shall keep the key of it." ...read more.

Conclusion

However, it then leads into the wider context of the play as Hamlet is betrayed by her and later on kills Polonius, which is followed by Ophelia's madness. Ophelia uses verse, and formal rhyme towards the end of her soliloquy and concludes with a rhyming couplet, "O, woe is me t'have seen what I have seen, see what I see." This method is used in order for the audience to pay particular attention to Ophelia noticing the contrast within Hamlet's violent and irrational personality now, with the harmonious and high qualities he used to show. Although Hamlet humiliates her with sexual disgust and gross innuendo, Ophelia avoids his meaning be saying he is, "blasted with ecstasy" using his madness to block out the negative elements of his change. Shakespeare brings out his own views of women in Hamlets character. According to R.S White, "Hamlet projects upon Ophelia the 'guilt and pollution' he believes exist in Gertrude's behaviour." He has strong feelings about her marriage to Claudius and describes it as, "A bloody deed, almost as bad...as kill a king, and marry with his brother." It is because of her actions that he begins to condemn women and makes rather derogatory comments, "Frailty, thy name is woman." Hamlet comments a vast deal on Gertrude's sexuality and lets her know that he, "thought-sick at the act" of her "making love over the nasty sty. ...read more.

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