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In Hamlet, women are not represented in the most positive light. Queen Gertrude has married Claudius, who has recently murdered her previous husband, and his own brother, King Hamlet. Her son, Hamlet describes the relationship as incestuous and because of her behaviour in marrying so soon after becoming a widow, views her as a whore. This colors his attitude towards his mother and indeed to all women. She appears to put Claudius and her own desire to maintain her position as queen ahead of her son's best interests. In fact, she completely fails to see that her marriage to Claudius might have a detrimental effect on her son and this indicates that she is somewhat self-absorbed.
Ophelia, the other main female character in the play is fairly weak. She loves Hamlet but bows to the will of her brother, Laertes and her father, Polonius, and does not act upon her feelings. Ophelia goes along with the plot of her father and Claudius to determine whether Hamlet is mad and this can be seen either as a sign of her desire to be a good daughter who is obedient to her father, or as weak-willed. Ophelia ultimately is driven to insanity by the death of her father and this could be construed as an indication that women are unable to control their emotions. The women in Hamlet are not shown to be particularly strong or independent, relying on the male characters to take the lead.
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