The women in hamlet had no political roles, and were viewed as lesser people by all men including the grave diggers, Claudius and hamlet. Ophelia, a Christian white woman had very little rights, besides basic education, she had no influence on politics and legal issues. Hamlet viewed her as a whore, and the grave diggers believed she did not deserve a Christian burial because of her suicide. In this essay I will discuss the extent of sexism in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
In Act III scene IV line 69: Hamlet says about Ophelia “for if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog being a good kissing carrion- have you a daughter?” Hamlet compares Ophelia to a dog, and a parasite in this dialogue. Women were denied basic rights over their own bodies and were considered “impure” for losing their virginity before marriage. The church and society believe women should achieve a “virgin birth” like the Virgin Mary. If a woman engaged in sexual practices they would be shunned by their male counterparts and women alike (very much like today’s society, but way more extreme). Women were discouraged from further education, and were trained to be housewives and mothers, rather than perusing roles in other fields of work. In Act I Scene III Line 104 Hamlet speaks to Ophelia, leaving her voice virtually unheard. "If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery. Go, farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery and quickly too, farewell!" Hamlet and Ophelia had a sexual relationship, and when Ophelia did not allow hamlet to peruse her any longer, he sees her as less of a person. He tells her to go to a nunnery to repent for her sins. Hamlet also tells her that if she were to marry, that she must marry a fool whom will forgive her, or look past her relationship before him. This view on the sexuality of women attacks them of being able to have control over her body. That her body is for one man and one man, as long as it is only seen after marriage. Hamlet describes a double standard because men have no rules controlling their reproductive system and how many partners they may have in their life; but limits a woman’s freedom to her own body. This leads to guilt, secrecy, and an inability to have healthy relationships due to the fear of discrimination.
The relationships between male and