Hamlet Character Review
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“Gertrude and Ophelia, in keeping with the role of women in Shakespeare’s time, are presented as victims in a male-dominated society.” To what extend do you agree with this statement?

The Elizabethan era was a great time for change. New technology, science and theatre were being introduced. This led to new discoveries enhancing the lives of the ordinary people. On the social side, inequality of gender was a great issue for Elizabethan women. They were subservient to men and were generally thought of as being less important. I believe that Ophelia and Gertrude died victims in a male dominating society.

Gertrude’s weak character makes it hard to see her as a victim. Gertrude quickly moves on from king Hamlet to Claudius, showing no remorse for King Hamlet’s death. She is apparently unaware that it’s Hamlets �father’s brother.’ She is also shocked when she finds out Claudius would do such a thing �as kill a king.’ Her character contrasts with Hamlet. He is intelligent and very witty, whereas Gertrude doesn’t have much knowledge. She is easily influenced, and an example of this is when she copies exactly what Claudius says when he �thanks Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.’ Hamlet is also aware of his mother’s old age, and he is disgusted that she is led by her sexual desires rather than �judgement.’

On the other hand the Queen is good in nature. A.C Bradley critically agrees that Gertrude �loved to be happy like a sheep in the sun’. She enjoyed being happy and she loved seeing others happy too. She didn’t like afflicting pain amongst others which makes her shocked when Hamlet is spiteful towards her, she is �unaware of what act roars so loud and thunders the index.’ She can see the errors of her ways due to her king nature and understanding of Hamlets misery. She also proves her love for Hamlet as a mother, it is towards the end where she dies while using her last bit of energy to warn hamlet, �O- my dear hamlet — The drink.’ She is though of as a victim by critics, as her decision of remarriage was not to bring any pain to Hamlet. If Hamlet did not interfere, she still would have been happy on the throne next to Claudius. If Claudius did not kill her husband, she would have been even happier along with Hamlet.

The ghost’s interference is a great significance to the play. The central theme of hamlet is the appearance of the ghost as it shapes the whole play. The ghost makes the play more believable for an Elizabethan audience. It gives Hamlet more of a reason to believe that Claudius killed his father. The Elizabethan society had definite views about ghosts. They cannot be challenged, they cannot be questioned, and they only wonder around until cock crows. The ghost suddenly interferes while Hamlet is criticising Gertrude. The Elizabethan audience would have accepted the ghost’s words as being the absolute truth, making the audience pity the �most seeming-virtuous queen.’ The ghost warns Hamlet �to leave her for the heavens.’ The ghost is the only one in Hamlet that sees Gertrude as a victim; we are inclined to think the same. A modern audience would reject the idea of a ghost. We do not have definite views about ghosts. Consequently we would react differently to the arrival of the ghost, challenging the ghost’s views on Gertrude.

In the Shakespearian era, the actors were aware of how they should act as they had direct contact with Shakespeare himself. They would act according to Shakespeare’s requirements and Shakespeare would have identified and then explained any errors made. Modern plays of Hamlet will be interpreted in different ways. Gertrude’s vulnerability could be shown through her language and speech. She does not have much speech during the play until her bedroom scene with Hamlet; even then she speaks in a soft manner. �Oh Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain,’ she says while hamlet disrespects her. Her language is respectful towards everyone. Even when hamlet is mocking her, she doesn’t do the same. Her language is not witty, or ironic, she is straight to the point. Gertrude’s not philosophical. She also doesn’t have a soliloquy; we don’t see her express her thoughts alone. Gertrude’s language is straight to the point; she’s not witty or ironic.

Gertrude is caught up in the rivalry between men. Claudius wants to �ship’ Hamlet off to England. Gertrude is aware that Claudius can no longer be trusted, however she still allows him to be shipped of to England. She is also aware that Hamlet wants revenge for his father. He warns her that �worse remains ahead.’ She suffers a feud between her husband and her son. She proves her loyalties to her husband when she stops Laertes from accusing Claudius of killing his father. She corrected her sins by choosing her son over her husband. Her last dying words are �the drink, o my dear Hamlet.’ We don’t feel a sense of waste as she did not die innocent. She is a victim as she died because of the poisoned drink left by her husband for her son. She was not a part of the rivalry, but she got caught up.

Ophelia’s role in Hamlet differs from Gertrude’s role; the fact that we feel a sense of waste when Ophelia dies contributes to the differences between them. Laertes advices Ophelia that �perhaps he loved you now…but you must fear’ Hamlets honesty with his love. Ophelia listens and does as she told. Perhaps if she wasn’t subservient, her actions wouldn’t have resulted in Hamlet turning against her. Her attitude re-enforces what hamlet thinks about her, �ha ha are

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