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Female Roles in Hamlet

Female Roles in Hamlet

In the past women have played a small role socially, economically, and politically. As a result of this, many works in literature were reflective of this kind of role for women. In Shakespeare's Hamlet the women in the play are the primary influence for the actions of many other characters. Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, and Ophelia, Hamlet's love, did affect many of the decisions and actions carried out by Hamlet.

Gertrude influenced Hamlet a lot throughout the play. Hamlet was very angered by his mother's remarriage to his uncle. He also felt betrayed by Gertrude for marring so early after her husband’s death. Hamlet could not accept this, describes King Claudius as "My father's brother, but no more like my father, than I to Hercules: within a month, ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes, she married.” (Act I, Scene II, Line 153) When Hamlet said "Frailty, thy name is woman” (Act I. Scene II. Line 146) it showed his extent of anger because he makes a generalization that all women are weak including the woman he loves most, his mother. As a result of his mother's actions, Hamlet takes revenge against Claudius for the death of his father. Claudius had to kill his brother to become King and marry Gertrude. Therefore, Gertrude is a significant part of the plot for this play.

Another significant female character is Ophelia, Hamlet's love. Hamlet's quest for revenge interferes with his relationship with Ophelia. There is much evidence to show that Hamlet loved her a great deal, but the presence of his madness drove her to her death. One of the strongest things he did to show his feelings for Ophelia is the poem he wrote her, "Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; but never doubt I love. O dear Ophelia! I am ill at these numbers: I have not art to reckon my groans; but that I love thee best, O most best! Believe it. Adieu Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to him, Hamlet" (Act II, Scene II, Lines 116-124).

Hamlet's madness and thoughts of his fate to kill his father has had a negative effect on his relationship with Ophelia. Ophelia asks Hamlet whether beauty could have any better commerce than honesty,...

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