How are Antigone, Gertrude (from Hamlet) and Ophelia (from Hamlet) similar?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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If you are writing an essay and need to provide support from Antigone and Hamlet for a comparison of these female characters, you could certainly prove that Antigone and Gertrude are similar.  They both know what they want and are willing to do almost anything to attain their objectives. While Antigone's goal (pleasing the gods) is nobler than Gertrude's, the two women's methods are quite similar. Similarly, Antigone (even though she is the title character) and Gertrude play central roles in their respective plays regardless of the fact that in comparison to other characters, they do not have a vast number of lines. The main dissimilarity between the two women is that Antigone is fiercely independent and believes that what she has done is right (trying to bury her brother and prepare his life for the underworld).  In contrast Gertrude admits to her son that he has done wrong and is dependent upon the male characters throughout the entirety of the play.

At first glance, it would seem that Antigone and Ophelia have little in common, but there are several similarities.  Both young women have close relationships with their brothers and both are abused by men who should have their best interest at heart (Antigone by her uncle Creon and Ophelia by her lover Hamlet). Another similarity is that Antigone and Ophelia both commit suicide (although some critics intepret Ophelia's death in another way, it's normally portrayed on stage as a suicide). Finally, the two younger ladies have idealistic views of life--Antigone believes that others and she should follow the gods' wishes and sincerely expects others to act morally and selflessly; this results in her death. Ophelia, too, sees the best in others and naively believes that others possess positive motives for their actions and words. She loses her mind when this belief proves to be false.

Despite the similarities between Antigone and Ophelia, Antigone is once again a fiercely independent creature in comparison to Ophelia.  She does not commit suicide out of weakness; but rather, she does so to prove a point to her uncle and to please the gods.  She sees her death as noble in contrast to Ophelia's simply giving up the will to live.

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