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niravhamletpapper.doc-1 - Nirav Patel English 201 031...

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Nirav Patel English 201 – 031 November 12, 2007 The Role of Gertrude and Ophelia in Hamlet At the time when William Shakespeare wrote the play Hamlet , every additional character to a play increased the cost of the production significantly, so why would Shakespeare have included two extra female characters? It is very clear that Shakespeare includes the two distinct female characters, Ophelia and Gertrude, because they serve a real purpose in the eyes of the playwright. The female characters very well may have been in the play to show and exemplify Shakespeare’s vision of women in general. Though Shakespeare is commonly known for his tragic plays that involve a tragic hero with a flaw that leads to their downfall, further analyzing any one of his plays can prove that he actually hid many intellectual concepts and new ideas within his many tragic plays. There is much evidence to assert that Shakespeare was one who believes strongly in the feminist movement, and for this reason often includes women as main characters in many of his works. An example of this could be Lady Macbeth in Macbeth or Juliet in Romeo and Juliet . Through the actions of Gertrude, Shakespeare shows how she, as a female, is in no way different from the many male characters that surround her. It could very well be that the events and ideas portrayed in many of Shakespeare’s works led to the beginning of the feminist movement. It would have easily been possible for Shakespeare to merely add just one single character to show how women could be different and equal to men, but he strategically added two characters so that the audience could see the difference within the two characters. Through the addition of the two
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female characters, Shakespeare aims to show the two different views of women, Gertrude serves to show the feministic capabilities of women, and Ophelia represents the old world views and normalizations about women in general. Throughout many of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Macbeth , women play the roles of murderers and of course Hamlet is no way different. The common thinking during Shakespeare’s era could have likely been that women were innocent, were not able to make their own decisions, and that they would never participate in activities such as
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course ENGL 201 taught by Professor Linkous during the Fall '07 term at George Mason.

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niravhamletpapper.doc-1 - Nirav Patel English 201 031...

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