Gertrude and Ophelia in the play Hamlet, differ variously compared to women today. Gertrude being Claudius’s wife after King Hamlet dies, and Ophelia is Polonius’s daughter and Hamlet’s “lover”. Starting with how they were treated. Hamlet for example treats the women in the play disrespectfully, and they already do not have high hopes for great fate. The world that the play is based around seems to be meant for men, and not built for women. So it seems Ophelia and Gertrude have to live AROUND what the men want and need, compared to what they want and need. Starting off digging deeper into the life of Ophelia, it seems that she was told what to do since the beginning of the play. This quote is Hamlet speaking to Ophelia.
Act 3. Sc. 1. “You jig and amble, and you lisp, you nickname God’s creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance.”
In this scene, Hamlet was insulting women-hood, and telling Ophelia how he does not want to marry her, and demands her to the nunnery. This scene just shows how Ophelia is treated no matter her opinion on such matters, or how much she loves Hamlet, he will always have the upper power. Compared to today, women have equal power on their say and are not bossed around like they were in this play. Ophelia dies in the play partially due to Hamlet being cruel to her, also her death not being her fault, and she did not want to save herself from death. It was a tragedy what happened to Ophelia, but her death was caused by her not wanting to save herself through all the events that happened to her and the way she was treated. It seemed that the men in the play made Ophelia feel hopeless and she felt like she had zero power over them. Although Hamlet is a play, the comparison in women in today’s time vs Ophelia and Gertrude differs greatly. Women’s hope and power are encouraged rather than talked down upon, and women can be freer than ever. This mistreatment and low attitude towards women does not just reach Ophelia but also Gertrude’s life. The quote below is Hamlet speaking about Gertrude, his father, and Claudius.
Act 1. Sc. 2. “Why she would hang on him as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on. And yet, within a month let me not think on it, frailty, thy name is woman!”
Hamlet was talking about Gertrude and her remarriage to Claudius. He disrespects all women while he says this although he is angry about Gertrude. Talking about the “increase of appetite” as well also talks down upon women and Gertrude’s “temptations” to remarry. Hamlet’s anger toward Gertrude he takes out on Ophelia, which kept adding on to her hopelessness. Hamlet just ends up taking out his anger on all women, even though he is only sincerely mad at Gertrude for her actions. The quote below is Hamlet speaking to Ophelia.
Act 3. Sc. 1. “Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell.”
In this scene, Hamlet is taking out her anger towards his mother on Ophelia. He is saying that no matter how wise the man she marries is, he will know what bad is to come by her actions and to go to a nunnery. This is again talking down to Ophelia, and her fate for her hope and power lowers. It’s upsetting that the fate of women is low and not hopeful due to how women are looked at during this time. Their feelings and dreams are not glanced at twice and are ignored. As when it comes to wanting a life with healthy love, it is the same outlook. The picture below is of Ophelia during her death, due to the mistreatment of her figure. Ophelia’s death overall shows the sad fate of women in the play. The painting of the picture below can give readers a visual of how Ophelia’s death played out in the scene, we also see that Ophelia could have recovered from this incident, but instead she chose death instead of living when she fell. As mentioned beforehand, this is because of the actions of the men in the play, and how she was not treated like the woman she was, but was more used and disrespected.
Reflection: I picked this topic for my un-essay because I enjoyed reading Hamlet, and was invested in the deeper meaning of the characters. I decided to focus on the fate of women because I think that this topic deserves a deeper look for readers to recognize. It was hard for me to connect media into this topic since I am comparing how women are treated today in 2021 vs. in the play. I liked to find more quotes toward Ophelia and Gertrude and their meaning towards women. The quotes I found were all said by Hamlet, since we see that he is taking out much anger on Ophelia, from his feelings toward his mother’s remarriage. If I could revise this project, I would add more media to it to make it more of an un-essay and would add more depth to each quote for readers. But this un-essay focuses specifically on Ophelia due to the feelings toward Gertrude from Hamlet, and how this added to her death. After looking at the greenlight suggestions, I decided to change a few things that would make my project look and sound better. Such as switching the last picture to the new one above that was more detailed and appropriate for the text supporting it and adding a citation to the picture. I also added more information relating to the painting, and why this is an important addition to my argument and the project. This first project taught me the basics that I could do for my future projects but helped me prepare for how much more creative I plan to go for #2 and #3 in this class. Honestly, it was a bit hard to work with Hamlet with relating the fate of women in the play to today’s times. At one point I was struggling to talk about more without repetition, so I think for my next project I will pick a wider and bigger subject with many side topics I could include as well. This project helped me know what to do and what not to do for future projects. Overall, it was interesting to dive deeper into the lives of Ophelia and Gertrude and the reason for their fates in the play, also to see how different the hopes of women’s lives are in the world today.