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Feminism in Hamlet

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Mikayla McAuley

on 2 July 2013

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Transcript of Feminism in Hamlet

William Shakespeare Prezi by Mikayla McAuley What is Feminist Theory? Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical or philosophical discourse. It aims to understand the nature of gender inequality. It examines women's social roles, experience, interests, and feminist politics in a variety of fields. In this presentation, we will apply feminist theory to female characters Ophelia and Gertrude. Ophelia Throughout the play, Ophelia is portrayed as the victim of the male characters around her. Ophelia and Hamlet Hamlet makes Ophelia believe she is the cause of his madness.

He treats her as a mere sexual object rather than a woman he loved. Hamlet on Feminism HAMLET: "That's a fair thought to lie between a maiden's legs." (III.ii.111)

HAMLET: "That it should come to this! But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king that was to this, Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother...Frailty, thy name is woman!" (I.ii.6)

OPHELIA: "Tis brief, my lord."
HAMLET: "As woman's love." (III.ii.140) Ophelia and Polonius Polonius is Ophelia's father. He treats her more like his property and expects her to do exactly as he says. This is especially evident when comparing Ophelia's life to Laertes: he is left alone to do as he pleases for much of the play, while Ophelia is forced to follow the wishes of her father rather than her own heart.
Polonius also uses Ophelia to get information from Hamlet for Claudius. OPHELIA: "I do not know, my lord, what I should think." (1.3.113) Gertrude Gertrude is also used by the men around her. She is passive, loyal, and submissive to all of the male characters, despite the fact that she is the queen and superior to all except Claudius. Gertrude and Claudius Throughout the play, Claudius is portrayed as cruel and hungry for power. Gertrude is loyal and submissive, doing all Claudius asks and acting a bit like his puppet. *The first and only time that the reader sees Gertrude disobey Claudius is when she unknowingly drinks the poisoned wine, resulting in her death.* In my opinion, this is not a coincidence, and the message Shakespeare wished to impress upon the reader is that women with minds of their own face consequences. Gertrude and Hamlet Even when Hamlet is being rude and screaming at/insulting his mother, she remains calm and quiet, never losing her temper and always trying to keep the peace in her family. Even though she is Hamlet's mother, she allows him to do and say whatever he wants. She even listens to him without complaint when he instructs her to end all relations with King Claudius. In Conclusion... There are only two female characters seen in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Both of these women seem more like props than characters. While the men are strong-willed, ambitious, and forward, the women are meek. Both women ended up dying for the men that "loved" them.
Due to the time period, I feel that Shakespeare was limited in his portrayal of the female characters. I think that there is much more to both characters than we get to see as the reader.
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