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The role of women in both of these texts are particularly interesting, because they seem to be divided between women who are strong and assertive, such as Gertrude and Julia, and women who are anything but assertive, such as Katherine, Winston's wife, and Ophelia. Note how Julia in 1984 is presented as being competent, assertive, and organised. It is she who conducts the affair, telling Winston where, when and how they will meet again, as the following quote describes:
And now listen, dear, we're going to fix up about the next time to meet. We may as well go bck to the place in the wood. We've given it a long rest. But you must go there by a different way this time. I've got it all planned out.
Julia is clearly the "brains" behind her and Winston's affair, and it is she who is dominant in managing their liaisons together. This is of course balanced by the character of Katherine, who is described above all else as passive.
In Hamlet, Gertrude is presented as a strong character who is not afraid to confront her son after the play he puts on to present Claudius with his crime. She likewise, when she has been soundly scolded by her son, is able to shift her allegiance away from her new husband to her son. Ophelia, on the other hand, is a character who is presented as powerless and biddable, obeying her father even though she loves Hamlet, as her speech in Act II scene 1 testifies:
No, my good lord, but as you did command
I did repel his letters and denied
His access to me.
Ophelia is a character who is used and controlled by men, and these men include her father and her lover. Women in these two texts seem to be split therefore between powerful female characters and then those who are much more passive and weaker.
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