How Does Shakespeare Present Ophelia's Treatment Of Women In Hamlet

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Women: Victims of Society Since the birth of society, women have been placed in socially inferior roles. Society have established a woman’s inherent nature to be fragile, obedient, and naive. In the play, Hamlet, Shakespeare reflects and addresses this ideology through the portrayal of the two main female characters, Gertrude and Ophelia, as victims and tools of manipulation. Throughout the play, women serve as assets that acquiesce to every command made by man. Ophelia, in particular, becomes her father’s manipulative resource. Her father, attempting to win favor with his King and Queen by proving Hamlet’s madness, orders Ophelia to “lock herself from [Hamlet’s] resort, /admit no messengers, receive no tokens.” (II.ii.142-143) and entice…show more content…
Ophelia, who has lived her entire life under her father, is abandoned when her dear lover, Hamlet, murders her father Polonius. “I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died…” (IV.v.175-176) Violets here serve as a metaphor for all that she had: her father. This is a reflection of women’s invisibility in society without a male figure to protect them. With the loss of her father comes the loss of her existence, which in turns causes Ophelia to go mad, “divided from herself and her fair judgement” (IV.v. 80) She ultimately commits the sin of suicide, a victim of society’s values and her own dependency on men. Although royalty, Gertrude’s character lacks power and is not taken seriously by her subjects because of her sex. Polonius, her subject, does not treat her as a royal, commanding her to “tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with…” (III.iv.2) yet attempts to ramble with “art” when in the presence of the King. Her “o’erhasty marriage” (II.ii.57) to Claudius was an act of security in order to rely on him to make her choices. Yet, when she attempts to disobey her husband’s wishes to not drink the poisoned drink, affirming “I will, my lord; I pray you, pardon me” (V.ii.255), her own act of independence causes her

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