Fall 2015 Shakespeare I: Team 1

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Hamlet’s Views on Women


In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare portrays the story of Hamlet, the son of King Hamlet who had his legal rights to be King due to his deceased father, stripped away from him because of the incestuous marriage between his mother and uncle. Throughout the play it is apparent that Hamlet may in fact be mad or he could be playing the role of a mad person. The main cause of these mad ideas, including seeing his father’s ghost, and mad actions all stem from the initial act of the marriage between Gertrude and Claudius.

Hamlet was shattered and disgusted by his mother’s choice to marry his uncle so quickly that he states her tears from his father’s funeral were not even dried up yet before jumping into bed with his uncle, “Within a month, Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes, She married. O most wicked speed, to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (1.2.155). It is clear that Hamlet becomes distrustful of woman in general due to this deception from his mother that he curses all woman in general which includes Ophelia, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (1.2.147). When Hamlet suggests that Ophelia go to a nunnery Shakespeare could be doing a play on words which could mean giving their souls to God, or a brothel. A nunnery in the first thought, is thought to have no influence of men and temptation, no children to bear or sexual encounters to be a “breeder of sinners” (3.1.124), he is suggesting that he does not want her to experience sexual corruption which he has seen firsthand regarding his mother and uncle. Besides Hamlet acting in this manner, Polonius also degrades his daughter Ophelia by using her as somewhat of a pawn or bait in wanting to find out if Hamlet is truly mad. Throughout the play, Ophelia is very much a pawn to Hamlet, her father, and her brother, Laertes which ultimately is half the reason for her suicide she committed later on in the play. Hamlet toyed with her heart not only to try and act mad but I also think deep down he was so scared and emotionally distraught from his mothers actions.

Hamlet has a strong dislike and utter distrust of woman because of his personal devastation he faced with his Gertrude’s quick decision and incestuous encounter. He feels betrayed by his own mother, the sole person who he believes should never cause him pain. He feel’s more hurt and anguish from this encounter rather than his father’s death it seems. Hamlet has a “bad taste in his mouth” in regards to all women which has greatly affected his encounters and actions thus far in the play and definitely can be viewed as his reason for becoming “mad.”


  1. Sam,
    I love your analysis on Hamlets weird conversation with Ophelia. I did not think of that interpretation, that being him not wanting Ophelia to experience “corruption” as far as her sexuality like he feels his mother has. I also agree it seems Hamlet is more pissed about Gertrude’s actions then the fact that his father was wrongly murdered and the crown is in corrupt hands. He never threatens Claudius directly or passionately yells at him in the way he does to Gertrude. It is interesting to interpret Hamlets madness as being caused because of his short fuse for women. I like wearing that lens and looking back at the play. He is definitely not a feminist of any kind (uses whore a few times lol). But, then again are any of Shakespeare characters ever really a voice for women? eh..it wasn’t his thing. lol

  2. Sam,
    I was intrigued by the fact that you compared Ophelia to a “pawn” as this brings some clarification to her demise and downfall. Ophelia’s death was heavily important to the plays plot sequence, followed by the actions of Laeretes and Hamlet jumping into her grave. These actions are ironic, given the circumstances you discussed in your blog. I had a heavy heart when I was reading the scene of Ophelia’s death, but the more I consider your post the more I do believe Ophelia to have been these men’s pawn. Furthermore, making Laertes and Hamlet’s actions somewhat a slap in the face to Ophelia, even though she is already gone. I as a woman, certainly wouldn’t have known how to handle the way Ophelia was treated by men; men who were supposed to cherish for and love her, therefore, this adds much needed clarity to the reasoning behind Ophelia’s death, whether it be horrible accident or suicide.

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