How does Shakespeare present women in Hamlet?

Shakespeare presents the two women in Hamlet, Ophelia and Gertrude, as good women who are confused and hurt by Hamlet's erratic behavior. We see them within the context of Hamlet's troubled perceptions of women and within a corrupt Danish court.

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The two women in the play, Gertrude and Ophelia, are presented as gentle, loving women. However, within the context of Hamlet's point of view, which dominates the play, women are presented as duplicitous and untrustworthy.

Hamlet's anger at women arises from his distress that his mother so quickly remarried after his father's death and married someone he considers unworthy of her. This colors his view of women, as does the context of his sense of disease and corruption overtaking the Danish court under Claudius's reign.

Ophelia is presented as a dutiful sister and daughter, who is somewhat duplicitous in having conversations with Hamlet when she knows others are eavesdropping. However, she truly loves Hamlet and is badly hurt by his inconsistent and angry behavior towards her. At the Mousetrap play, he makes lewd jokes about lying in her lap. He tells her to get herself to a "nunnery," a word that could mean either convent or brothel.

Hamlet's seeming abandonment of Ophelia, along with his killing her father, causes Ophelia to snap and go mad. Here, Shakespeare is portraying women as fragile and weaker than men. The gentle Ophelia ends up, tragically, committing suicide.

Gertrude is portrayed as a good mother figure to both Ophelia and Hamlet. She wants the best for both of them. She tries as well, to be a good wife to her new husband. Hamlet, however, frightens her with his anger and erratic behavior, creating a difficult relationship between them.

The two women are presented as good-hearted people who are ground up by a corrupt society.

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