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Transcript of The characterisation
How Gertrude and Ophelia are presented in
Gertrude is weak and dependent
Gertrude is insensitive to Hamlet's grief.
Ophelia is a passive, docile character who is dominated by the men in her life.
Ophelia is innocent and naïve
They are weak, dependent and playing passive roles in the male-dominated court
"Frailty, thy name is woman."
She has lived in the shadow of two husbands and is incapable of independent living.
Gertrude is shallow and fickle.
She remarries within weeks of her husband's death. She also is an adulterer.
Her hasty marriage upsets him, she tells him to break out of mourning and doesn't understand why he is so upset.
Gertrude is morally blind
She refuses to see Claudius as the villain he is.
Gertrude understands her son better than anyone else
She can see the real reasons why he is upset.
Gertrude is loyal to Hamlet
She tries to protect him when he kills Polonius. She understands that his madness should not be told to Claudius.
Gertrude has a conscience
Her wrongdoing causes her great distress. She is deeply affected by Ophelia's death.
Gertrude is weak and shallow rather than evil. She retains her maternal instinct, her conscience and her humanity.
English Key Notes
, Mentor Books
Ophelia is obedient to her father
She has a strong sense of duty to her father.
Ophelia is manipulated and exploited by Polonius and Claudius.
She is used to trap and bait Hamlet
She is cruelly abused by Hamlet
She becomes the focus of all of Hamlet's negative energy.
She is the epitome of innocence and sweetness, The flowers that surround her symbolise her beauty and innocence.
She is unable to cope with the harshness of the world which she inhabits
She is drawn into a world of corruption and violence. Her sensitive mind is deeply affected and she loses her sanity. She is a pitiable character.
Both Gertrude and Ophelia have to live in a world dominated by men.
They both die as a consequence of male power struggles.
Gertrude: Dramatic function
Gertrude is the catalyst for much that happens in the play.
Gertrude is a symbol of the weakness of women in the Danish Court.
Her brevity of grief for King Hamlet is the cause of Hamlet's profound disillusionment with life.
Ophelia: Dramatic Function
Ophelia is a symbol of weakness of women in the Danish Court.
Ophelia's behaviour heightens Hamlet's sense of isolation in the Danish Court.
Ophelia is a symbol of innocence and beauty
Ophelia's insanity and death highlight the play's tragic dimension.