Homework Help

What does the quote "Frailty, thy name is women" mean in Hamlet?

user profile pic

sahabia | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 1, 2007 at 5:33 PM via web

dislike 1 like

What does the quote "Frailty, thy name is women" mean in Hamlet?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

jamie-wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 1, 2007 at 8:56 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

Hamlet is referring to his mother's weaknesses:  morally, spiritually, and physically.  Morally she is "frail" because she betrayed her husband by marrying Claudius, and has the indecency to do so a mere two months after King Hamlet's death.  Spritually she is frail because (in Hamlet's mind, as all these judgments are) she has committed an unforgivable sin.  Physically she is "frail" because she is a woman, though this obviously is the least of Hamlet's concerns.

Renaissance thinking was that women were "hot", ruled by their passions which would run amok if not kept in constant check.  If you could do some reseach on this to help explain Gertrude's "frailness" and round out your paper.  I've included a link below to get you started. 

Sources:

user profile pic

sahabia | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 3, 2007 at 12:22 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

both answers are really impressive im really thanksful to both of you.here we find Oedipus Complex that shows Hamlet a frail person .here we find shakespeare's own mentality to think every women in the world "frail" so hamlet looks his mouthpiece.actually hamlet generalises his mother' misdeed(insestuous marriage) for every women in the world.he is looking suspicious or sceptic about women's loyality.please let me know how much i understood right?

user profile pic

rtandon | Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted September 3, 2007 at 1:31 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

Although this quote is spoken by Hamlet in reference to his mother's betrayal and adultery, this quote can be equally applicable to Ophelia as well. 'Frailty' can be interpreted as a weakness in women, women who are fickle-minded or who have no strength of character. In a society dominated by Patriarchial rules, women like Gertrude and Ophelia can certainly be seen as weak and frail because the play remains quite ambiguous about Gertude's role in the murder of King Hamlet. They are merely pawns in the ambitious mechanisations of men like Claudius, Polonius, Laertes and to a certain extent Hamlet himself.    

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes