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Hamlet (A Critical Analysis)

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According to Parrish, “There are two roles for women: Ophelia is ionized as the Madonna and Gertrude is demonized as the Whore” (qtd. in Howard 288). It seems that some gaps are left intentionally when it comes to female characters. Feminists often criticized women’s presentation in Hamlet. Howard explains in “Feminist Criticism” that Feminists believe that besides maid, wife or widow trilogy, there only exist one classification of women and that is whore (410-415). Usually men decides women’s fate and character, as in Hamlet, after the death of old Hamlet, the very act of getting married with his husband’s brother made Gertrude morally ill and her own son identified him as a whore.

The judgment is based on Hamlet’s idea it is unlawful and his mother is treacherous and unfaithful to his late father. Hamlet’s consequent disbelief on all women including his beloved, Ophelia and treating her as a whore seems insane. Madness is often linked with Ophelia that compelled her for suicide. According to conventional theories, she lost three powerful men in her life that led her to madness (Bloom 57) but it was her grief and disappointment from those who she had ever believed and loved.

Her brother, Laertes left her, her father, Polonius died and her lover, Hamlet not only betrayed her but also killed her father. The play never revealed her inner feelings and emotional upheaval that made her kill herself. Gertrude‘s portrayal of a whore or adulteress has never been condemned over centuries of Hamlet’s interpretations. Neither Shakespeare nor critics revealed her true intention of getting married with Claudius. Surprisingly, common interpretation confirms Hamlet’s assumption of his mother’s character without even a single clue of this in play.

Moreover, there is no evidence in text of her being accused of poisoning her husband or even aware that Claudius did it. Many feminist including Carolyn Heilbrun in her essay “Hamlet’s Mother” (qtd. in Bloom 58) questioned the validity of this shallow judgment. Gertrude’s decision of marrying Claudius can be truly based on her good judgment of future threats to the kingdom. Women portrayal of early modern English period does not remind us of strong women leading kingdoms, the possibility of her good intentions in selecting a king as soon as possible for an approaching war cannot be ruled out.

However, there is no interpretation that confirms it. There is considerable amount of psychoanalytic work on Hamlet that questions Hamlet’s delay in avenge Claudius.

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preview essay on Hamlet (A Critical Analysis)
  • Pages: 4 (1000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Unsorted
  • Level: Masters
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