Urgent! Compare the treatment of women in Hamlet, Sonnet 130, "Cousin Kate", and/or  "Havisham." Sonnet 130 "Cousin Kate" "Havisham"

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Like the speaker in "Cousin Kate," who has been tossed aside for another woman, Ophelia is also exploited in Shakespeare's Hamlet. For, she is used by both her father, Polonius, and Hamlet, who supposedly loves her. For, knowing that Ophelia loves Hamlet, but serving his own interest in ingratiating himself with King Claudius and Queen Gertrude, he orders his daughter to provoke Hamlet:

No, my good lord. But as you did command
I did repel his letters and denied
His access to me. (2.1.108-110)
 
Later, when Ophelia and Hamlet talk, he retaliates against her for her rejection; also, he is angered about the betrayal of his father by his mother who has so quickly remarried and made his uncle her husband. When the actors perform the play Hamlet has scripted, Hamlet uses inappropriate language and feigns madness, exploiting Ophelia so that she will tell others he is mad.
 
Miss Havisham of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations has likewise been exploited by her brother and her supposed bridegroom. Once they obtain much of her money the two men leave her stranded at the altar. She is so profoundly affected by this rejection and embarrassment that she stays in her wedding dress and stops all the clocks because her heart has died, much as the rejected maiden in "Cousin Kate" has had done to her.
Spinster, I...remember. whole days
in bed cawing NOOOOO at the wall; the dress
yellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe;
the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did this to me?
 Only the maiden of Sonnet CXXX is loved although she is not a beauty or dainty. In this sonnet, Shakespeare flaunts the conventions by writing an anti-Petrarchan comparison with lends humor to the literary form of a blazon in which the poet lists the virtues of his lover. Nevertheless, she is devalued since she has been used for the poet's purposes.
 
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kevinwinters's profile pic

kevinwinters | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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The mistress in Sonnet 130 is quite loved, but recognized as unattractive and quite the opposite of a typical love interest. Her shortcomings are readily apparent to her lover, but he recognizes that most descriptions of "dream women" are filled with exaggeration.

Cousin Kate is a woman who has been the love interest of a lord, only to be cast aside for another woman. She is broken-hearted, yet is carrying the baby of the lord, which his current wife cannot give him.

Havisham is about a bride that was abandoned on the day of her wedding and has never gotten over it. In fact, it has ruined her life and become the sole focus of her misery.

The women in all 3 texts are objectified. The only women that is truly loved is the mistress in Sonnet 130, yet she is presented as someone that isn't special enough to blind her lover to the truth of her faults. Both women in the other texts have been cast aside and left broken because of their relationships with the men they loved.

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