Shakespeare S Hamlet Essay

Submitted By stevieargentina
Words: 2451
Pages: 10

The Frail Ladies The main women in the tragedy of Hamlet play vital roles in the play and display key elements of how women were said to be frail during the different era in time. Frailty in the eyes of Hamlet means weak and easily influenced by outside sources. Such sources in this play include: King Claudius, Polonius, Laertes, and even Prince Hamlet. There are many moments in the play where Ophelia shows just how frail she is. Hamlet calls out the frailty of women in I.ii.146: “Frailty, thy name is woman!” It is clear that Hamlet is passionate and bold in his statement, and the moments where Ophelia and Gertrude are frail in the story reaffirm his claim. This essay will examine the moments of Ophelia and Gertrude when they show just how frail they are. The two women in the play are very close to Prince Hamlet, and are women who he loved. He loves them in very different ways because one was his mother and the other he longed for with a more intimate touch. His mother has been put in an uncomfortable position by the circumstances placed before her. Her husband and father to Prince Hamlet, King Hamlet, is killed and she begins a new relationship with the Uncle of Prince Hamlet, and new King, Claudius. Gertrude’s choices are limited. As Queen, it is in her best interest to marry the new King in order to maintain the Kingdom and move past the murder of King Hamlet. As a woman, Gertrude is destined to keep on the wave and ride with the flow of the new royalty. The other woman in the play, Ophelia, is in a much different position than Hamlet’s mother. Ophelia is the daughter of The Lord Chamberlain of new King Claudius’s court, Polonius. Polonius is no friend of Hamlet’s and forbids Ophelia from associating with Prince Hamlet. Ophelia is pushed around by her brother, Laertes, the same way she is pushed around by her father. Ophelia’s brother (Laertes) and father (Polonius) are very protective of Ophelia. They show that they care about her, which is admirable. However, the care they give her in a way transforms into demands and manipulation. Ophelia’s brother tells her that Hamlet only desires her for sexual reasons and nothing more. He is adamant in his words that she stay clear of Hamlet for her own well being: “For Hamlet in the trifling of his favor, hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, a violet in the youth of primy nature, Forward not permanent, sweet, not lasting, the perfume and suppliance of a minute; No more” (I,iii,6-10). It is obvious that Laertes has a distaste for Hamlet, but in a way is holding Ophelia back from making her own decisions. By relaying this message to Ophelia, he has manipulated her mind into believing that Hamlet is no good for love. Later on in the same scene, Ophelia is confronted by her father, Polonius, who echoes Laertes’ warnings about Hamlet: “Marry, I'll teach you: think yourself a baby/That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay, Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly; Or—not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, Running it thus—you'll tender me a fool (I,iii,105-9). Not only does Polonius warn her about Hamlet, but he compares her to a baby, which is the ultimate frail creature. Ophelia obeys her father’s and brother’s commands, which shows that she is indeed frail by not making her own life decisions. Right away Ophelia is forbidden from connecting with a potential mate in Prince Hamlet, once again showing her frailty. And, by letting her father, Polonius, use her as bait to get to the bottom of Hamlet’s madness, she allows herself to be pushed around. Polonius is well aware of Hamlet’s desire for his daughter, so, being the conniving wit that he is, he manipulates a plan with Claudius, but his daughter’s head also gets manipulated in the process. In the hall of the castle, Polonius and Claudius hide and watch Ophelia’s encounter with Hamlet. Her attempt to help her father and King Claudius backfires when Hamlet verbally attacks her with his powerful and contradicting