Hamlet: a Feminist Approach

1212 words 5 pages
Hamlet: A Feminist Approach

Sexism: the belief or attitude that one sex is inherently superior to, more competent than, or more valuable than the other (most commonly used for male superiority). This idea that women are weak is not a new one in the modern world. It has been studied for countless years along with the concept of a patriarchal society. A patriarchy is defined as a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. Such systems currently exist in several forms and areas around the world; however, the most common place for these patriarchies is in literature. Novels, plays, works of nonfiction, and other forms of literature have shown to either “reinforce or undermine the
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However, this point is flawed. In reality, the reason for Ophelia committing suicide may not have been the loss of guidance from her male family members, but rather because Laertes and Polonius had oppressed her for her entire life-- once she experienced more freedom, she could not handle it. Nevertheless, Shakespeare’s portrayal of Ophelia depicts a weak, unstable woman, who when without men beside her, is unable to continue through the pains of life.

Shakespeare’s sexism continues to be portrayed through Queen Gertrude’s interactions with other characters. Gertrude appears in a negative light to the reader at the beginning of the play, as she shockingly remarries to her brother-in-law “within a month” (24) after her husband’s death. Hamlet’s soliloquy expresses both his and Shakespeare’s thoughts about the inferiority of women: “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (24) due to their need of being cared for and protected, along with their sexual desires. Here, Hamlet explicitly describes his disapproval of the way his mother had quickly remarried, especially to Claudius (whom Hamlet knew had killed his father). Shakespeare, however, incorrectly portrays the Queen. Gertrude may not have known about Claudius’ involvement in Old Hamlet’s death. She may have been simply encouraging the swift recovery of the nation of Denmark, eager to secure things and proceed with the nation’s business. Essentially, Shakespeare, by casting