Thursday, January 30, 2020
To what extent do you feel that the presentation Essay Example for Free
To what extent do you feel that the presentation Essay In Shakespeares time a womans status in society was very much based upon their fathers or husbands success. This subsidiary status was based on religious conceptions of hierarchy whereby according to the medieval church, Adam was created first, and Eve from his body; she was created specifically to give him comfort, and was to be subordinate to him, to obey him and to accept her lesser status. Furthermore, it was also based on the renaissance stereotype of women, which was split between the Virgin Mary and the Whore of Babylon. The Virgin Mary being represented by Ophelia to show her innocence and purity, and the Whore of Babylon by Gertrude to show her impurity and experience. These misconceptions show that although Shakespeare uses Gertrude to portray his view of women he does not highlight the naivety of Ophelias character and is instead clouded by the idea of imperfection within Gertrudes character. The concept of equality between the sexes was non-existent in Shakespeares time. Renaissance and Medieval literature was often misogynistic so there was a general distrust of women, which is portrayed in Hamlet. The husband was given the accepted role of head of the household, his duty being, to give his wife and children moral guidance as women had very little authority and were made out to be insignificant citizens. However, a modern audience would view Hamlet differently with a more educated opinion because of the changing situation of women in society since the Elizabethan era. Many people would find the derogatory and anti-feminist comments made in Hamlet profoundly offensive and nowadays they would be unacceptable. The role of women in Hamlet is represented by the two characters of Ophelia and Gertrude. Ophelia, who is Hamlets lover and the daughter of the kings prime minister Polonius, and Gertrude, Hamlets mother, who is the widow of the old king Hamlet and the wife of the current king of Denmark; Claudius. Both of these characters are portrayed as weak and nai ve to depict Shakespeares views and the views of the society on women. Women had little rights; they could be educated, although they could not go to university. Also, they were not allowed to vote, enter the professions, or become heirs to their fathers titles. One of the main themes within Hamlet is obedience as women were expected to remain obedient to their husbands or fathers throughout their lives. Obedience is key to Ophelias character as her actions are derived from her obedience towards Laertes and her father, Polonius. Nowadays obedience is less of an issue and a modern audience would probably not understand its importance to the play and why Ophelia goes to the extreme length of not ever seeing Hamlet again after Polonius orders her not, to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Her relationship with Polonius is a stereotype of the father-daughter relationship in Shakespeares time whereby her opinion is not relevant. He does not listen and is very dismissive of her, Ay, fashion you may call it. Go to, go to, yet she still shows him the utmost respect by referring to him as, my Lord. Although he cares for her he is very patronising towards her and treats her like a child, Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl. His tone towards her brings out the notion of her inferiority. Polonius forcefully orders her to, Look tot, I charge you. Nevertheless, Ophelia does as she is told, I shall obey. This is similar to Gertrudes language to Claudius as she also tells him, I shall obey you, when he informs her of his wish to spy on Hamlet with Ophelia. Ophelia agrees to let Claudius and Polonius spy on Hamlet because she believes that she must obey him. Furthermore, she may want to prove to her father of Hamlets devotion to her. This is shown when she notifies the Queen by referring to her wanting Hamlets madness to be caused by his love for her, I wish it may. However, Ophelias relationship with Laertes is much less strict than with Polonius in the sense that she seems to feel more comfortable around him than Polonius and tends to listen to him more. She promises to take his advice by telling him that she, shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart. However, at the beginning of the scene Laertes goes straight into his advice when he tells her, My necessaries are embarked. He does not show her any brotherly love and is straight to the point, which makes him seem cold and unaffectionate. There is an extensive use of shared lines between the start of Laertes and Ophelias discussion: (Laertes) No more. (Ophelia) No more but so? This method helps to emphasize the power relationship between the two characters. He speaks first then she follows with her short and general answers to his long speech, which highlights her natural carelessness of innocence. It seems as though he is undermining her when he gives her advice. Although, she acknowledges and accepts his control over her as she tells him his advice, Tis in my memory locked, and you yourself shall keep the key of it. Ophelia is unable to make her own decisions about Hamlet as she tells her father, I do not know, what I should think. Therefore, as a result she turns to her father who tells her, I will teach you. Which, later on leads to her destruction as she thinks Hamlets madness is caused by her rejection of him. Shakespeare uses her inability to think for herself to represent how women had very little independence and their roles were confined. They were expected to be silent observers and according to Michael Best, a dominant woman or one that showed any attempt at asserting their views was seen as, unnatural, a symptom of disorder. Shakespeare demonstrates this by Gertrudes limited intelligence as she makes a very general comment towards Hamlet, All that lives must die. Her speech seems tentative and she tends to echo Claudius when she Thanks Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz. In present society the Queen has more authority and would have a more equal relationship with the king than Gertrude does with Claudius. Although Gertrude is obedient towards Claudius she makes less sacrifices for him unlike Ophelia, who risks her relationship with Hamlet to obey her father. In fact, marrying Claudius helps Gertrude to remain within the royal family of Denmark after the death of old king Hamlet. Hamlet is incredibly unkind to Ophelia. In act 3 scene 1 Hamlet perceives from Ophelias strange behaviour, that she was not acting of her own accord but as a decoy. We notice this as he begins contradicting himself: he tells Ophelia, I did love you once and goes on to say, I loved you not. There is also a change in the direction of his speech as it is aimed at the spies. Those that are married already-all but one-shall live. The caesura in the line allows the audience to pick out this particular line and helps us to understand its significance as a threat directed at Claudius. Hamlets crude comments suggest Ophelia is false and impure when he tells her to get thee to a nunnery in order to save herself from being corrupted by sexual temptation. Although another interpretation could be that he believes women corrupt men and she has corrupted him by falling in love with him. However it can be argued that his unforgivable behaviour towards Ophelia was a pretence to make her believe in his antic disposition. Furthermore, whenever Hamlet is in his antic disposition he uses prose, which is what he uses to talk to Ophelia in this scene. According to feminist critic, Lee Edwards, We can imagine Hamlets story without Ophelia, but Ophelia literally has no story without Hamlet. This is because Ophelias character is used to create a sub-plot, which involves the relationship between her and Hamlet. This creates more interest as the focus is diverted from Hamlets revenge plan. However, it then leads into the wider context of the play as Hamlet is betrayed by her and later on kills Polonius, which is followed by Ophelias madness. Ophelia uses verse, and formal rhyme towards the end of her soliloquy and concludes with a rhyming couplet, O, woe is me thave seen what I have seen, see what I see. This method is used in order for the audience to pay particular attention to Ophelia noticing the contrast within Hamlets violent and irrational personality now, with the harmonious and high qualities he used to show. Although Hamlet humiliates her with sexual disgust and gross innuendo, Ophelia avoids his meaning be saying he is, blasted with ecstasy using his madness to block out the negative elements of his change. Shakespeare brings out his own views of women in Hamlets character. According to R. S White, Hamlet projects upon Ophelia the guilt and pollution he believes exist in Gertrudes behaviour. He has strong feelings about her marriage to Claudius and describes it as, A bloody deed, almost as bad as kill a king, and marry with his brother. It is because of her actions that he begins to condemn women and makes rather derogatory comments, Frailty, thy name is woman. Hamlet comments a vast deal on Gertrudes sexuality and lets her know that he, thought-sick at the act of her making love over the nasty sty. He uses this sexual imagery to show his disgust by describing Claudius with beast like references. Gertrude loves Hamlet and shows genuine disbelief when he confronts her, speak to me no more, these words like daggers enter in mine ears. She trys to protect him from the king after all that he has said to her. Hamlets behaviour towards Gertrude and Ophelia would create much more sympathy now than it would have done in Shakespeares time, as the audience would have been used to the treatment of women and would have agreed with the Hamlet, the heroes opinion. Gertrude dies by drinking poison from the cup, which, is provided by Claudius and meant to kill Hamlet. Her death has no major significance unlike Ophelias death. The ultimate fate of Ophelia, madness and eventually death, is a result of her fathers death and her inability to cope with it. She is driven to her madness by Hamlets betrayal of her. This is reflected in her songs as she sings, Before you tumbled me, you promised me to wed. According to Charney Maurice, within Renaissance drama madwomen were more strongly defined than madmen, and womens madness was interpreted as something specifically feminine. For Ophelia madness is the only time she is able to express her repressed feelings without being challenged or punished. Her death is beautified with the image of her lying in the water surrounded by her garlands of flowers, which are used to symbolize her innocence. Gertrudes extensive use of imagery creates a pretty image to represent Ophelias character like the hoar leaves, which symbolize a grey colour to represent age, to emphasise her youth and innocence. Her symbolic meanings are purposefully created to appear specifically feminine. Ophelia can be seen as a representative of women in Shakespeares time because of her strong emotions, which were stereotypically womanly. Although, her madness can be seen to symbolize womens oppression in society. She is the ultimate victim and is on the receiving end of Hamlets revenge plan and his male desire. It is her suffering from Hamlets wild and insulting behaviour, which creates our greatest sympathy for her. However this would be limited in a Shakespearian audience because of the stereotype and general distrust of women. Gertrude can also be seen as a victim although she does not gain as much sympathy as Ophelia because of her inconsiderate behaviour towards Hamlet and old Hamlet. Yet we would feel sympathy, as we know she is oblivious to the conspiracies surrounding her. Bibliography http://absoluteshakespeare. com/guides/hamlet/hamlet. htm http://web. uvic. ca/shakespeare/library/SLT/intro/introsubj. html http://www. tk421. net/essays/hamlet/hamlet. html http://www. clicknotes. com/hamlet/questions. html.