Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, how are the women treated by the men in the society and what do men want from women?

Hamlet speaks as though men are predatory, wanting only to satisfy their lust with women. Polonius and Laertes share his concerns when giving advice to Ophelia. However, Hamlet's conduct to Ophelia, as she describes it, does not bear this out. Even Claudius, villain though he is, seems to be motivated more by status than by lust in his pursuit of Gertrude.

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Women in the play seem to be used by the men as pawns, pieces to be used to gain more power or status or enjoyment but not as individuals in their own right. The justification or rationale for this treatment seems to be that women are somehow morally weaker than men. For example, Hamlet tells Ophelia,

I have heard of your paintings too, well
enough. God hath given you one face, and you
make yourselves another. You jig and amble,and
you lisp; your nickname God's creatures and make
your wantonness your ignorance. (3.1.154-158)

He accuses her, and all women, of being false, of taking whatever God has given them and seeking to change it....

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1,169 words.)

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