Hamlet: Gender

Hamlet’s desire to cleanse his mother is his attempt to rectify her image in his eyes and indicative of the patriarchal society in the 17th century 1)Point on Gertrude and the patriachy
‘in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed…over the nasty sty’; ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’; ‘act’…’blurs the grace and blush of modesty, calls virtue hypocrite’; ‘blister’ and ‘rose’; ‘get thee to a nunnery’ to Ophelia 1) Quotes
Mary Queen of Scots; marriage to brother in law condemned in Leviticus and was used by HVIII 1) Context
‘Characters struggle unsuccessfully to reconstruct a coherent worldview from the ruins of the old’ Kastan 1) Critics
Shakespeare adeptly portrays both Ophelia’s real madness and Hamlet’s feigned madness thus demonstrating the supposed ‘frailty’ of the female mind in Elizabethan England. (Talk about sexualised treatment) 2) On Ophelia’s madness
‘By Cock [men] are to blame’; ‘tumbled me’; (Polonius thinks that Hamlet has succumbed to * without considering his daughter might too be subject to the same kind of madness) ‘the very ecstasy of love’; Hamlet: ‘you are a fishmonger’; ‘I am but mad north-north-west’ 2) Quotes
Women’s minds were considered weaker than men’s and less able to withstand trauma as their minds were governed by an inconsistent moon 2) Context
Katherine Mansfield: ‘poor wispy Ophelia’ 2) Critics
Ophelia is treated by Polonius and Laertes as a passive and easily manipulated female ie as a pawn in Claudius’ and Polonius’ entrapment of Hamlet 3)Point on Ophelia and Polonius
‘Think yourself a baby/ That you have ta’en these tender for true pay/ Which are not sterling’ 3) Quotes
Renassaince women were ‘chattels’ -no seperate identity in the eyes of law. Hope of good marriage relied on virginity 3) Context
View Ophelia’s character as limiting and constraining attitudes to women at the time 3) Feminist critics

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