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Hamlet: Feminism

Critical Theory Presentation

David Tran

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of Hamlet: Feminism

O, Woe is Woman! What is Feminist
Criticism? Ophelia Conclusion General Statement Works Consulted Something else? No matter the status or the situation, the plight of woman to obey and serve man is universal, within Shakespearean literature and perhaps (though less so) even today. Act I, Scene III Shakespeare's Portrayal of Ophelia Treated as less of a person and more of an object
Father protects her as his property
Hamlet treats her as a mere sexual object Questions to keep in mind Why does Hamlet portray women as being inferior? What to consider How women are portrayed.
How they are treated by male characters.
How the females treat the male characters. Gertrude Feminist Criticism This lens aims to expose the misogynistic nature of male authors through their writings. It looks at how the female consciousness is portrayed by both male and female authors. It also seeks to fix the imbalance in literary study where most of the major works of literature are written by men. Ophelia's Madness Caused by alienation and isolation
Torn between her duty to her father and her duty to her prince
Decision to obey father leads to disaster
*blames herself Significance to Modern Society Ophelia struggles to determine what is right
Wants to please people, shows insecurity
Women today undergo this same struggle, just in different circumstances
We often blame ourselves for horrible accidents, as Ophelia does Laertes and Ophelia Mutual respect and affection
Interaction as equals
His concern for her is from love

“But, good my brother, do not... show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, whiles... himself the primrose path of dalliance treads” (1.3.50-54). Polonius and Ophelia What is the relationship between men and women? Polonius is head of the family, superior
Treats Ophelia as property
*concerned about her as a property-owner
*wants her to remain pure and chaste
Repetition of advice gives it more gravity and consequence

“I do not know, my lord, what I should think” (1.3. 113) What are the roles of the women? Importance of Family Structure Indicator of Ophelia's place in society
She clearly feels her duty is to her father over her prince
Insight into her choices and interactions throughout the play Theme Ophelia's inner struggles to do justice reflect the struggles of modern women, though Polonius' and Hamlet's treatment of her paints her as an outdated symbol of the objectification of women in the Shakespearean era. Modern Interpretation History Marilyn Monroe
“Gentlemen prefer blondes”
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” Elizabethan Era - Queen Elizabeth of England - single, never married

John Knox wrote: "Women in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man."

Expected to instantly obey any male members of the family

All titles would pass from father to son or brother to brother. (Only exception was the monarchy) Theme Obedient Gertrude is told to leave, and does so without hesitation
“I shall obey you" (3.1.41)
punished for disobedience with poison Passive “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” (3.2.254)

“Oh me, what hast thou done”

“Frailty thy name is woman!” Peacemaker “Alack, what noise is this?” vs. “Attend. Where is my Switzers? Let them guard the door’” (4.5.104) A feminist lens allows us to dispel the notion of Gertrude as a stereotypical bumbling “blonde”.
Rather, Gertrude adheres to the Elizabethan values of the period, allowing her to maintain honor and dignity while facing a tense family conflict. Guilty? “So full of artless jealousy is guilt, it spills itself in fearing to be spilt” (4.5.24-25)

“O Hamlet, speak no more, / Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul” Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Washington Square Press new Folger ed. New York: Washington Square Press, 1992. Print.
DiYanni, Robert. "Critical Theory: Approaches to the Analysis and Interpretation of Literature ." Literature: reading fiction, poetry, and drama. 6th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 2156-2160. Print.
Snook, Lindsay . "Gertrude: The Slut, Lady Macbeth: a Man Stuck in a Woman?s Body?." Tripod. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2012. <members.tripod.com/lindsay_snook/shakespeare_and_feminism.html >.
"SparkNotes: Hamlet: Analysis of Major Characters." SparkNotes: Today's Most Popular Study Guides. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/hamlet/canalysis.html>. By:
Fabian Boemer
Sarah Douglas
Nhi Lam
Annee Nguyen
Neha Srikumar
David Tran Act III, Scene IV “Hamlet, though hast thy father much offended.” (3.4.12) Gertrude is the puppet of her current husband. Important Quotes “O Hamlet, speak no more!
Thou turn’st my eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grainèd spots
As will not leave their tinct.” (3.4.99-102) Reinforces the idea of guilt. “O, speak to me no more!
These words like daggers enter in my ears.
No more, sweet Hamlet!” (3.4.107-109) She is attempting to calm him down, be the “peacemaker” while he “speaks daggers” to her. “Be thou assured, if words be made of breath
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou has said to me.” (3.4.219-221) “I have nothing left to say to you. You have left me with no air to breath.”
Queen Gertrude acts as the “wounded mother.” Relationship of Hamlet and Gertrude Gertrude toward both of her husbands She shows reverence to her current husband, and her guilt reveals that she was loyal to the late King Hamlet also. Gertrude acts as the “wounded mother”, still trying to calm her son, and act as the “peacemaker” though he is treating her horribly. Important Points •The Shakespearean woman is loyal to all the men in her life.

•The Shakespearean woman wants a stable, constant environment to aid her self-preservation and advancement. Hence, they become “peacemakers.”
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