Women, what makes up a woman? Is it the fact that women are more physically limited than men, have been shunned by society for stating out their opinions or has it been that they have almost always been segregated in the course of long periods of time throughout history? Women are viewed as the weaker gender although history, which has influenced the media, literary works, and the opinions and beliefs of the people themselves. Their shortcomings physically has caused a barrier between the two sexes, which in result caused females force themselves in weak and submissive manners. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet highlights the very role of “weak” women in the literary tragedy. The roles of the two most important females in the play are one of the issues of the literary work that causes readers to rethink all that occurs within the play is partially caused by the failings of the two characters. Throughout time and up until today’s society, women have often been viewed as inferior to men, been deeply influenced by the thought how women are and should be dependent on males, as shown in one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, Hamlet.
Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, been given one of the important roles of the story is shown however as very feeble and dependent on men, all throughout time. Her two marriages are a source of evidence of her weak personality, how she lived in the shadows of two kings. After the death of her first husband, Old King Hamlet, she marries almost immediately to his younger brother Claudius. Her relationship and marriage to her previous husband’s murderer causes discomfort and shock to the readers of the play of her fickleness. However it is stated in the beginning of the play that their marriage was that of convenience instead of love, being said that she only remarried for the good of the monarchy, “Th’ imperial jointress to this warlike state” (Act 1.2.9).
Gertrude’s lack of attempt to either confirm or deny Claudius’s statement brings up the idea of how weak and compliant she is, how she is unable to challenge him, is unequal to his power. Only focusing more on how overshadowed and affected her role as Queen of Demark. Gertrude’s role as a mother to Hamlet due to her weak character is quite twisted, placing her own pleasures before Hamlet’s needs. Gertrude’s goodness is the only personality trait that helps her throughout the plotline. She is by no means scheming and untruthful – unlike Claudius and even her son, Hamlet. Through her sudden and cruel death, it focuses on the social standing of women within this tragedy, being compliant and unaware of the corruption around them.
Ophelia is a young woman who is controlled and manipulated by all the men stationed in her life, given the role of being Hamlet’s lover. Ophelia’s main role in the play is to focus Hamlet’s distorted outlook of women. Though to the readers she is mentioned as innocent and docile young noble lady, her relationship with Hamlet is very close and seems unpure to bystanders. Ophelia has the potential to be a tragic heroine, alongside Hamlet, is able to prevail over her father’s selfish control, however due to her obedience and compliance, she is then categorized as an “tragic” character.
Ophelia is exceedingly submissive, obeying all of her father’s demands, and heeding her brother’s opinions and advices on her relationship with the prince, even after their quarrel. Her innocence is only then…