Portrayal of Women in Hamlet and Oedipus Tyrannus

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Portrayal of Women in Hamlet and Oedipus Tyrannus Introduction Traditionally, the society has been heavily tilted against women. Throughout history, the female gender has suffered bias and oppression from their male counterparts. Society generally considers women as the weaker sex and incapable of holding their own (Das 1). Shakespeare and Sophocles have captured the plight of women in their texts Hamlet and Oedipus Tyrannus respectively. The two texts present a woman from a disadvantaged point of view and how she struggles to establish a foothold in a male-dominated society. In Hamlet, analysis of the plight of women falls on Ophelia and Gertrude. The two women endure chauvinistic suffering and finally break loose. Gertrude transgresses the patriarchal bounds of femininity by marrying soon after her husband’s death, much to Hamlet’s chagrin. Consequently, he refers to her as “frail” (Act 1, Scene 2, line 146). It is apparent that Hamlet would have preferred to make decisions for his mother just because she is a woman. He does not trust her mother to make wise decisions even though she has been queen for quite some time. Ophelia, on the other hand, bears the brunt of male chauvinism as she is not allowed to choose for herself who she should love. Her father prohibits her from having a love relationship with Hamlet. Eventually, she commits suicide. In Oedipus Tyrannus, the plight of women falls squarely on Jocasta, Oedipus’ wife. When her first husband dies, she has no free hand in choosing her next husband. Society determines that whoever kills the sphinx would be her husband. Oedipus comes along, kills the sphinx and marries her, oblivious of the fact that Jocasta is actually his mother. This contributes to the tragic events in the play. The thesis of this essay, therefore, states that women in the two texts are portrayed as weaker species that undergo extreme
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