the weaker sex : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread

How important are the roles of the women in 'Hamlet' and are they percieved as the weaker sex, even though e.g, Gertrude is meant to be the equal of Claudius?

-- kate (, January 08, 2003


The workings of the Danish monarchy as seen through WS's eys aren't crystal clear. But I'm pretty sure that, although Gertrude is called Queen, it is more of a courtesy title than a practical position. That is, I don't think she is meant to be the equal of Claudius. He's the King, elected and ruling, while she's basically his consort.

The roles of Ophelia and Gertrude are very important, even though they don't do or say as much as even some of the lesser male characters. They are very, very important for the relationships that males have with them and they have with males. And they also give a social, human balance to the play, it's themes, it's depiction of society and families.

And yes indeedy, in HAMLET women are perceived as the weaker sex, by themselves as well as by men. It isn't just a case of men seeing them as lesser, even faulty beings, to be subordinated. Ophelia and Gertrude subordinate themselves to their menfolk, and see this as right. So they are usually not self- assertive against men. But this doesn't stop them from emerging as personally quite strong in some ways. I think perhaps WS probably drew his female characters as he perceived them in real life, and recognized that they could be wise, intelligent, witty, capable, competent, courageous, determined, loyal, honest good, moral. In this, it's probably relevant, obviously, that at the time WS wrote many of his plays, a woman, Elizabeth I, was on the throne of England, and doing what was seen as a dang good job at it.

Have a look at responses to the many questions in the forum about Gertrude and Ophelia.

-- catherine england (, January 08, 2003.

These fucking questions are lifted word for word from peoples homework assignments! Come on everyone! For Gods sake!!

-- Patrick Walker (, January 13, 2003.

Well I don't know Patrick. Some of them are still interesting, and it makes for conversation. And some of the students I've emailed with are actually rather effing scared of their essays.

I say, here's to spreading the joy that is WS and HAMLET - any old way.

-- catherine england (, January 14, 2003.

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