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In  Hamlet, what would lead you to believe 'women are the destroyers of men'?If...

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tom121 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 2, 2010 at 11:19 AM via web

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In  Hamlet, what would lead you to believe 'women are the destroyers of men'?

If possible, could you include how (your answer) relates to the theme of tragedy?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 2, 2010 at 9:06 PM (Answer #1)

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Tragedy, in literature, is when someone falls from a position of greatness, usually as the result of some flaw in their character or in their fortune. In "Hamlet", King Hamlet died, in part, because his brother coveted Queen Gertrude.  We know Claudius desired Gertrude because, in Act 3, sc. 3, when he is in the chapel, he says that he killed his brother for the crown, his ambition, and the queen (line 55).  In that sense, Gertrude helps to bring about her husband's fall.  Hamlet, himself, sees women as weak-willed but also as possessing the ability to make fools of me.  He says in Act 1, sc. 2, l. 146, that women are weak and fickle.  He indicates that his mother seemed to hang on every word his father spoke, wanted to be around him constantly, and worshipped the ground he walked on, but as soon as he was dead, she switched her attention and love to another man.  Then in Act 3, sc. 2, Hamlet tells Ophelia that women put on acts to get what they want from men (ll. 145-153).  Hamlet's words to Ophelia in this scene and in the next scene of Act 3, before the performers put on their play, indicate Hamlet's anger toward her and toward all women.  The anger toward women continues in scene 4 of Act 3, when Hamlet goes to his mother's room and he berates her for marrying Claudius after she'd had such an excellent husband in King Hamlet.  Hamlet believes that women are fickle creatures as far as their feelings go, and that they don't care who they hurt in the process of loving or ceasing to love.

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