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Feminism in Hamlet
Transcript of Feminism in Hamlet
Brittany Brown, Caroline Bullock Feminism (n): The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. There are three main perspectives: French, American, and British. French feminist focus their attention on the language. The French feminist were the first people to suggest that there is a genre called "women's writing". They also tended to draw their analytical views from philosopher Jacques Lacan. Lacan called Ophelia "The Object of Ophelia" which is basically implying she is Hamlet's object. "Either they can imagine and represent themselves as men imagine and represent them or they can choose silence" For American feminism, Americans overemphasize text and underemphasis popular art and culture. The Americans had a less philosophical view on literature. For British perspective, they had a more political view on literature. They think that American opposition to male stereotypes that denigrate women has often led to counter stereotypes of feminine virtue that ignore real differences. In the Victorian period was when people started to write about Ophelia. They depicted her as innocent and terrified of life. "For many female theorists a mad-woman is a heroine, a powerful figure that shows rebellion". Elizabethans would have diagnosed her as love-melancholy or erotomania. Frueudian Theory depicts Ophelia as a sex symbol. Many people, such as the Romans, thought that Ophelia was just someone to look at. "We can imagine Hamlet's story without Ophelia, but Ophelia literally has no story without Hamlet". In contrast, Showalter proposes that Ophelia does have a story of her own that feminist criticism can tell.
When Hamlet asks what Ophelia thinks, she responds, "I think nothing, my lord". He then responds "That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs". This shows the negativity, absence and lack of women's opinion and being. The alternation of strong and weak Ophelia on the stage, virginal and seductive Ophelia's in art, inadequate or oppressed Ophelia's in criticism, tells us how these representations have overflowed the test and how they have reflected the ideological character of their times, erupting as debates between dominant and feminist vies in periods of gender crisis and redefinition.