How did the gender roles affect women's relationship to men?

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shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two women in Hamlet.  

Gertrude is the Queen yet she doesn't really have any power.  If we look at her life, she was her father's daughter.  Her father, probably the King of Denmark, chose her husband for her since bloodlines were important.  She was probably married to Old Hamlet when she was a teenager.  How old he was is unkown.  When he died, she was alone for probably the first time her life since women were dependent on the men in their lives.  Her son was away at school.  The country needed a king.  Claudius was just the man for the job but in order to become king, he needed to married Gertrude who was probably extremely vulnerable, thus the quick wedding.

Polonius has two children, Laretes and Ophelia.  It is interesting to note the use of thee and thou, and you.  Thee and thou are familiar whereas you is general.  Polonius uses the familiar with his son but with his daughter, usually uses the general, you.  This poor young girl is used by both her father and Hamlet.  Would she have been able to marry Hamlet under different circumstances?  I think not since she does not have the bloodline necessary for a prince and futher king.

So, the women in the play are used by the men.  They are dependent on them for everything.  






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