Hamlets negative perception of women in Shakespeares epic Hamlet - Essay Example

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The role of women in Shakespearean plays has been frenetically researched by literary critics. It is generally assumed that there is male dominance in every play which effectively leads to marginalization of female characters. …
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Hamlets negative perception of women in Shakespeares epic Hamlet
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Download file to see previous pages Leaving vulnerable roles for women and giving them no personal agency are the kinds of things for which Shakespeare has attracted much criticism over the years. Hamlet is the name of one such Shakespearean tragedy which clearly is a critically acclaimed success, but keeping in pattern with its predecessors, female characters in this play also are inferior to their male counterparts. Strangely enough, women are often introduced and portrayed as antagonists to the leading hero of the play who have either done something wrong to infuriate the male hero or are just simply misinterpreted and treated negatively. In Hamlet too, both leading female characters, Gertrude and Opehlia, are portrayed in a negative light. Both are singularly vulnerable compared to other main male characters and have no personal agency. It is suggested that Ophelia contributes to Hamlet’s anguish by betraying him on her father’s insistence, but actually Hamlet proves to be the source of her pain. The hotheaded aggressive hero of the tragedy causes Ophelia more emotional distress than she could ever cause to him and also contributes to her tragic demise. The purpose of this essay is to augment this argument that Hamlet has very negative attitudes towards women because he perceives them in a markedly flawed manner. The following discussion will explore and prove this argument in special reference to one female character, Ophelia. Prince Hamlet’s anger is made emphatic by the succession of Claudius to the throne whom he believes to be the murderer of his real father. To cap the matters, Gertrude also marries Claudius. However, irony is that she is not aware of the fact that the man she is marrying is the murderer of her husband. But, Hamlet still blames her vehemently believing he is betrayed by his mother. His personal ideology and belief about women is quite degrading and insulting, but he does not acknowledge this great weakness in his personality. According to Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective on personality, myriad experiences of youth or early family life have huge repercussions and play a momentous role in structuring a road-map for the future. Freud’s biological mother was quite beautiful and when once, he inadvertently saw her naked, everlasting impression of attraction and love was casted on his mind. His positive impression of women and the way he acknowledges their beauty and intelligence in his work stems from that early experience (Friedman and Schustack 70). In the same way, the bitter experience Hamlet shared with his mother in the form of her agreeing to marry Claudius cultivates this everlasting belief in his heart that all women are traitorous creatures who are not to be loved, appreciated, and believed. This belief structures a roadmap for his future life too which is evident in the way he goes on to treat Ophelia, another important woman in his life. Hamlet’s rancorous relationship with his mother develops emotional deficits in him. This is because the kind of attachment he has with Gertrude as a son affects him deeply and shapes his behaviors. He clearly does not share healthy cumulative experiences with Gertrude, due to which he ends up developing a warped sense of attachment and psychological connectedness with Ophelia. Gertrude is not to be blamed here, of course, for negatively influencing her son. This is Hamlet’s innate disposition to perceive things negatively taking them for what they are not in reality. This is why his relationship with Ophelia is so affectionless. A long journey consisting of many manipulative schemes is undertaken by Hamlet to reach his objectives and seek revenge on his enemies. One of those ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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