Dominate Or Dominated: The Women Of Hamlet

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Dominate or Dominated: The Women of Hamlet The word that best describes the women in Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet,” is dominated. Ophelia not only allows others to dictate her relationship with Hamlet, but she also allows them to use her as a pawn to plot against him. Gertrude shows her dependence upon males by her quick marriage to her dead husband’s brother, and she allows others to use her deceitfully in order to get to Hamlet, as well. Through these examples, it is evident that although they each have strong opinions, Gertrude and Ophelia play subservient roles to the men in their lives and require the need for men to show them what to think, as well as how to feel. In “Hamlet,” Ophelia’s introduction to the audience provides the foundation for her role throughout the rest of the play. This is in Act I, scene iii, when she is receiving the advice of her brother, Laertes, and her father, Polonius. In the case with Laertes, he cautions Ophelia against falling in love with Hamlet, who is, according to Laertes, too far above her by birth to be able to love her honorably. Since Hamlet is responsible not only for his own feelings but for his position in the state, it may be impossible for him to marry her. At this point, this is just simple advice. It is at the point where Ophelia acknowledges that Laertes probably does not intend to practice his own advice, that we first see her flaw. Even after Ophelia urges him not to give her advice that he does not intend to keep himself, she reassures him that she will keep his advice as a “watchman” close to her heart. The fact that Laertes instructs her to behave in a way that he chooses not to, hints that his advice may not be because he genuinely cares for her well-being. Rather, it is because he is worried on how her actions will affect his image and, at the same time, is able to assert some type of authority
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