Analyze Gertrude or Ophelia from a feminist perspective.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that feminists could point to Ophelia as the resultant of a male dominated society.  In many respects, Ophelia provides the ultimate justification as to why Feminism is needed as a movement.  The silencing of her voice, the constant abuse she suffers at the hands of men in her life, and the continual belittlement she endures would provide overwhelming demand for change.  Ophelia's silence would be the evidence which could prove why there is destruction in the proverbial silencing of anyone, and why it seems to happen more to women in a male dominated society.  Those who argue that there is no need for Feminism conceptions of reality as well as that the movement sees what is not present could use Ophelia's predicament as evidence to counter such claims.

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

You don't have to be a feminist to know that Ophelia is little more than a plaything and a tool of the men around her. Hamlet may well have loved her and treated her well once, but by the time he has the burden of revenge on him, he treats her rather badly. Now, of course, he does so because he knows that she's followed her father's orders and has rejected his love. Further, Hamlet knows that Ophelia is being used by her father and the King to spy on him.

Nonetheless, from a feminist's point of view, that's the point: Ophelia suffers because she is used as a mere pawn in male intrigue and power struggles. In the end, the pressure of such a situation is far more than she can bear, and so, rendered powerless by men, Ophelia goes mad and drowns herself.

As for Gertrude, the Queen, she has unwittingly and probably out of grief and weakness, married a murderer. Already, then, she is ensnared in the evil that men do. After the play-within-the-play (Act 3, Scene 2), Hamlet confronts his mother with what she has done and her whole world is torn apart. She knows she has betrayed the memory of her dead husband and married his killer; she is but another victim of men and their darkly driven natures. And like Ophelia, Gertrude pays the ultimate price of her powerlessness; she is killed by a poison meant for a man... her son, Prince Hamlet.

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