Compare the Representation of Women in Hamlet

The men completely misread the women and in Aphelia and Gertrude situation, the consequences are very tragic. In order to address this issue, it is necessary to explore the characters of Gertrude and Aphelia in Hamlet and the characters of Hero and Beatrice In Much Ado about Nothing, and In addition, how they are treated by other characters. This will then enable me to pass my own Judgment, as to how the women are represented in the two plays Hamlet and Much Ado about Nothing.

Shakespearean Division of Experience by Marilyn French describes and examines gender roles in a way which is applicable to literature.

This provides the theoretical framework from which the female characters in Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet can be analyses. According to Marilyn French, men and women are most generally seen as two extremely different entities with diverse characteristics and Imposed roles within society. There are two different aspects of the feminine principle, the ‘inlay’ and the ‘outlaw.

The ‘inlay’ aspect, portrays nature’s benevolent side, which includes the ability to give birth, as well as compassion, while aiming to maintain the importance of community above that of the individual.

On the other hand, the outlaw’ aspect represents nature’s malevolent side, as well as darkness, turmoil and sexuality. From the first glance, one could say that there are predominantly two ‘inlay characters, Hero and Aphelia, and one main ‘outlaw’ character, Gertrude. Conversely, it is possible to believe that Aphelia behaves in some ways like an ‘outlaw character, rebelling and standing up for herself.

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Although Aphelia is not the focal character in Hamlet, the audience Is Intrigued by the subtleness and also complexity of her mind.

Aphelia Is seen as an Innocent character In the play that Is denied the freedom of peach and forced to surrender to the domineering men in her life. Aphelion’s actions are derived from other characters’ advice and this inevitably supersedes her own self-assurance and confidence. Aphelia is a female character in a kingdom of controlling and overprotective and so Aphelia must define herself by male judgments that may be entirely misconstrued. From Aphelion’s first scene on stage, Alerts warns nerd Tanat Hamlet Is merely “trilling” Walt n nerd near Ana Tanat seen Is not AT a high enough rank to deserve his true affection.

It becomes clear that although Alerts must love his sister, in my Judgment he does not have a very high opinion of her. Some have maintained that Aphelia is seen as an innocent character in the play that is denied the freedom of speech and forced to surrender to the domineering men in her life. Aphelia could be perceived as one of the weaker characters in the play, portrayed as a puppet of all other characters in the play. As David Leverage said, “[Aphelia] is a play within a play, or a player trying to respond to several imperious directors at one.

Everyone has used her; Polonium, to gain favor; Alerts, to belittle Hamlet; Claudia, to spy on Hamlet; Hamlet to express rage at Gertrude; and Hamlet again; to express his feigned madness with her as a decoy. She is valued only for the roles that further people’s plots. ” This quote certainly illustrates the weakness and frailty of Aphelia, which can be supported in parts throughout the play. One can suggest that Polonium has a reasonably low opinion of his daughter, Aphelia.

The first aspect to point out is how Aphelia is treated by her father in Act I Scene Ill, in which Polonium assumes she is likely to lie about her relationship with Hamlet and in addition calls her a “green girl and a baby’. Polonium is so sure that he is always right and so forces his self assurance on Aphelia. He forbids Aphelia to see Hamlet again and has so browbeaten her that, as David Leverage has said, “[Aphelia] has no choice but to say ‘l shall obey my Lord”. This supports the point that Aphelia is seen to give way to Polonium and also suggests that the women were expected to surrender to the men in their lives.

In some respect, as women were deemed to be inferior, this meant that Aphelia was expected to comply with Polonium’ advice and end her relationship with Hamlet. As this was the norm for women in the medieval period, it would have been aberrant for Aphelia to disobey her father. It could be said that Aphelion’s actions are derived from other characters advice, for example Alerts warning her that Hamlet is merely “trifling” with her heart, and that this inevitably supersedes her own self assurance and confidence. “Not allowed to love and unable to be false,” David Leverage points out, “Aphelia breaks.

She goes mad rather than gets mad. Even in her madness she has no voice of her own, only a discord of other voices and expectations, customs gone awry’. By the end of the play, Aphelion’s insanity has completely overcome her and it could be argued that this is caused by the overpowering advice of others that has such controlled her life. One may see that this continually breaks her down so that she is no longer a character able to deal with her own Judgments and thoughts, she is merely pawn commanded by the voices of others.

Elaine Saltwater has reinforced this view in her essay “Representing Aphelia: Women, Madness and the Responsibilities of Feminist criticism”. According to Elaine, “The mad Aphelion’s bawdy songs and verbal license, hill they give her access to ‘an entirely different range of experience’ from what she is allowed as the dutiful daughter, seem to be her one sanctioned form of self- assertion as a woman, quickly followed, as in retribution, by her death”.

It may be said that this illustrates how the restrictions and limits of Aphelion’s life has resulted In nerd Insanity As panel’s mall source AT palace NAS Eden slain Day Hamlet, seen NAS lost her ability to reason, she is therefore drawn to madness as her life has now become a time where decisions are no longer made for her and insanity is her only option. Aphelia had for so long repressed her feelings and her life had become so chaotic that there was no escaping this, thus turning her mad, as her madness was the only way to express herself as a character.

This can be referred to in David Leverage’ essay, in which he puts across his view that “[Aphelion’s] history is an instance of how someone can be driven mad by having her inner feelings misrepresented, not responded to or acknowledged only through chastisement and repressions”. Such is Aphelion’s case. The men (Hamlet, Alerts and Polonium) make assumptions and then they make demands based on those assumptions, but there is o way Aphelia can meet the demands because the underlying assumptions are flawed.

The example of this is concerning Hamlet; he believes that he can involve Aphelia in his plans without her suffering, which inevitably, in the end, she does. Furthermore, Alerts and Polonium are sure that they can take control of Aphelion’s life and steer her in another direction that does not involve her with Hamlet, but this cannot be followed through as it can be perceived that Aphelia is very much in love with Hamlet. On the issue of Aphelion’s madness, one should consider the problem room another angle.

As seen in Elaine Shelter’s quote above, one could view Aphelion’s madness from a different perspective; the fact that Polonium is forever keeping watch on Aphelia and trying to control her, may have resulted in her rebelling against her father in order to achieve some freedom, which she has been seen to accomplish in her madness. Polonium’ close watch on his daughter may have caused her to rebel in other ways also. One cannot deny that there is evidence in the play to suggest that Aphelia has had sexual relations with Hamlet.

Take for example, he sexual comments made during Aphelion’s madness, including the line, “before you tumbled me, you promised me to wed. ” However, we should remember that this quote was not recited directly to Hamlet so it may not be aimed at him, it could be directed to men in a more general sense. We could perhaps take this to mean that Aphelia has risen up against her father, which illustrates unquestionably that Aphelia has therefore not ‘given way to Polonium. In Elaine Shelter’s words, “we have had a feminist discourse which has offered a new perspective on Aphelion’s madness as protest and rebellion.

For many feminist theorists, the madwoman is a heroin, a powerful figure who rebels against the family and the social order”. This can be seen to agree with the view that Aphelia has not given way to Polonium and as such has remained in control. There is strong evidence in the text to suggest that Aphelia has committed suicide. Although Gertrude maintains that the branch broke and swept Aphelia down the river, the church denies her a Christian burial on the grounds that she killed herself.

We are encouraged to believe that without a struggle, Aphelia surrendered to the water singing “snatches of old tunes”. More evidence to support Aphelion’s suicide can be found in Act V Scene l, “Is she getting a Christian burial, even though she willfully took her own life? ” During the medieval era, suicide was a mortal sin in the eyes of the Church and those who committed suicide were prohibited from being buried on consecrated ground. Is Aphelia driven mad by her love for Hamlet, or is she the victim of a society that has created impossible expectations Tort Its women? En cannot any Tanat panel NAS no alternative out to throw herself into the river to drown. In the end, one can say that the issue of Aphelion’s death represents the action of Aphelia rising up against her father and other domineering men in the play by taking control of the one aspect she truly had power over; her life. While on the one hand it can be said that Aphelia can be portray both ‘Inlay and ‘outlaw’ aspects, Hero is considered to portray the ultimate example of the inlay aspect of the feminine principle; she does not challenge the masculine principle in any particular way.

Thus, she remains within the stipulated boundaries imposed on women by society, regarding the way the men believe women should behave. In this way, Hero can be linked to Aphelia in the way that they both conform to society and are controlled by the men in their lives. Hero dutifully accepts her role as an exemplary daughter to her father, Leona, by acting in accordance to his wishes and complying with every one of his requests: [Leona] Daughter, remember what I told you.

If the Prince do Solicit you in that kind, you know the answer Therefore, her exemplary behavior, shown by the way in which she unquestioningly respects her father’s desires and attends to each of his requests, leads her to become the presentation of the ideal female behavior, which consequently heightens her father’s pride and reputation. In addition, this can be likened to the way Aphelia accepts her father’s request to send back Hamlet’s love letters and be used in his plan to become friendly with the King.

It could be said the amount of lines a character has is directly related to how developed that character is. In this case, Hero comes across as being extremely shy, mainly due to the fact that she remains silent through most of the play, speaking only when she is spoken to. On the other hand, he has a very weak disposition, as she does not have the strength of character to stand up for and defend herself against the attacks and accusations. An example of this is Claudio accusation of her at their wedding, “give not this rotten orange to your friend”, implying that Hero is unchaste and therefore spoiled.

This metaphor also leads the reader to explore how the men regarded the women in the play; as an object or a possession. This portrayal of women can be compared to courtly love, how lovers were expected to behave. Only when Claudio and the rest of the men have left, does she intend to explain her innocence to her father: “They know that do accuse me. I know none. Oh my father. Prove you that any man with me conversed At hours unmet, or that I heightening Maintained the change of words with any creature, Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death! (V, l, 183) Even at the time when Hero should have put aside her courteousness in order to prevent her reputation from being tarnished, she maintains her submissive attitude towards men. I northbound ten play, mainly Owe to Herds lack AT presence Ana sell-assurance, nerd image is mould and built upon the opinions of the surrounding men, similar to the ay that Aphelia bases all her personal decisions on information she is told from the men around her. Therefore, although her personality is unchanging, as she will always act respectfully and submissively to men, her image varies as the plot unveils.

At first she is regarded as the representation of the perfect wife and daughter, which suggests that she has a passive and caring nature. According to Jane Mills’ Woman’s Words, A Dictionary of words about women, “wife specialized to mean a woman joined to a man by marriage… Wife, I. E. A woman who belongs to a man”. The evidence for this can be observed in the way she relates to and obeys the demands of men, always making use of courtly language, as expected: “[Don Pedro] And you too, gentle Hero? Hero] I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin too good husband” (II, l, 343) We learn more about Hero’s notion of love from her conversation about Beatrice and Benedict than from her own thoughts about her marriage to Claudio. Hero seems to realize that in order to love another, one must sacrifice some self-love. She has rationalized that love is not about self-indulgence, but self-sacrifice, which explains mom of her willingness to love Claudio even after he has wronged her. In absolute contrast to Hero and Aphelia, Beatrice personality could be said to belong to the outlaw part of the female principle.

Although on the whole she accepts her condition of submission, it could be stated that she accepts formal but not true submission. This refers to the facts that she complies with the basic impositions resulting from her circumstance as a woman and yet does not refrain from taking advantage of any situation in which she has the possibility of taking control and expressing her opinion, within an acceptable scale. Therefore, regardless of her supposedly subdued condition, utterly unlike Hero and Aphelia, she does not hesitate to actively participate in discussions and conversations.

It is important to take into account that Beatrice does not enjoy being confined into her subdued role as a woman and in turn she could be seen to try and be a part of the male principle. She firmly desired to gain as much independence and freedom of speech, opinion and thought as any man has. This is evident when she wants to seek revenge for what was done to her cousin: “O that I were a man!… O God that I were a man! I old eat his heart in the market-place. “(lb, l, 309). Here, Beatrice desires to have the same power as men can be seen and she strives at any attempt within her reach to make herself respected.

Beatrice constantly states that she will most surely remain an unmarried woman, as she has no intention of committing to a lasting relationship, in which her only role is to attend to the needs and respond to the orders of her husband. She believes that if she did marry, the implications of this would most probably force her into submission. Concurrently, she relentlessly discards all possible partners, as she does not seem o De Seattle Walt any particular type AT person Tort nerd NASDAQ.

I Norton nerd indecisiveness at selecting any possible candidate, she undoubtedly displays the fact that she has no intention of marrying, consequently revolting against society and the role she has to play as a woman: “[Beatrice] He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him [Leona] Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband [Beatrice] Not till God make men of some other metal than Earth”

In Much Ado About Nothing it could be perceived that Beatrice contrasts other female characters in that play, in addition to the female characters of Aphelia and Gertrude. Whereas Hero is polite, gentle and respectful, Beatrice is feisty, cynical and witty. The play is transgression in that the female characters refuse to comply with stereotypical notions of femininity and thus do not conform to patriarchy. Consider Beatrice for example, as she is used in the play as a main character, and is consequently a more developed character than other the other females.

This can be en immediately by looking at the differences in the amount of lines each of the female characters have. Beatrice behaves more like a modern woman of these times, refusing to marry and refusing to cave to the standards that society has set for her. But, even Beatrice lapses into the general “female role” when she is forced to ask Benedict for help in avenging her cousin. Although Aphelia can be seen as the major and more iconic character in Hamlet, one must also consider Gertrude and her behavior towards Claudia.

Many views about Gertrude can be seen in the essay “A Heart Cleft in Twain: The Dilemma of Shakespearean Gertrude” by Rebecca Smith. According to Rebecca “[Gertrude] has traditionally been played as a sensual deceitful woman. ” As Gertrude only appears in ten out of the twenty scenes in Hamlet, even in these scenes she speaks very little, it is difficult to come to a conclusion about her character. Some have maintained that Gertrude is a weak character, defined by her frailty, who, in addition, is blamed for causing much of the violence and conflict in the play.

However, to elaborate or disagree with this point one need only refer to Rebecca Smith’s point that “Gertrude lives that quiet women best please men, and pleasing men is Gertrude main interest. ” Considering this, it is possible to believe that Gertrude major concern is to maintain a strong relationship with the two men, Claudia and Hamlet. However, another aspect to point out is that of Gertrude death.

Gertrude refuses to comply with Claudia, King Gertrude, do not drink Queen- I will, my lord, I pray you pardon me It is richly ironic that the time that Gertrude chooses to assert herself the most, it happens at the most inconvenient time and in fact causes her death. In the words of Rebecca Smith, “In fact, Gertrude death is symbolic of the internal disharmony cause by her divided loyalties”, which illustrates Gertrude main concern is to please toners, Tort In order to mourn nerd son Hamlet, seen NAS to Loosely Clauses Tort ten first time.

In some respect, one could suggest that this displays Gertrude contravening Claudia, therefore in this situation, she does not give way to him. Overall, Aphelia can, in many ways be seen to give way to Polonium. But taken as a whole, Aphelia can be seen to overcome Polonium by rebelling against him in her allegations with Hamlet. In Hamlet Aphelia is denied the freedom of speech and as such she cannot survive in the cruel world that Shakespeare has highlighted.

Throughout the play Aphelia is represented by the floral motif; beautiful yet fragile. Being a female in a kingdom filled with chaos and deceptions, the innocent Aphelia is forced to keep silent and obey the domineering men in her life. Had she the license to think for herself, Aphelia might have reasoned through her dilemma, but, caught as she is between her father’s and brother’s restrictive instructions and Hamlet’s rushing demands, she is trapped in a choice-less existence.

In my opinion, both these characters, in some instances, overpower the men in their life and refuse to conform. However, the way these characters are driven towards their deaths are very different. In addition, the way they rebel against their men are dissimilar of each other. For example, Aphelia rebels against Polonium by in her madness and hysteria and again in her suicide. However, Gertrude opposes Claudia so they she can please her son and by disobeying him, this leads to her death.

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Compare the Representation of Women in Hamlet. (2017, Nov 03). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-compare-the-representation-of-women-in-hamlet/

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