Shakespeare's Hamlet - Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia Essay

Shakespeare's Hamlet - Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia Essay

Length: 3020 words (8.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Hamlet -- Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia

 
    Gertrude and Ophelia occupy the leading roles for females in the Shakespearean drama Hamlet. As women they share many things in common: attitudes from others, shallow or simple minds and outlooks, etc. This essay will delve into what they have in common.

The protagonist’s negative attitude toward both women is an obvious starting point. John Dover Wilson explains in What Happens in Hamlet how the prince holds both of the women in disgust:

The difficulty is not that, having once loved Ophelia, Hamlet ceases to do so. This is explained, as most critics have agreed, by his mother’s conduct which has put  him quite out of love with Love and has poisoned his whole imagination. The exclamation “Frailty thy name is woman!” in the first soliloquy, we come to feel later, embraces Ophelia as well as Gertrude, while in the bedroom scene he as good as taxes his mother with destroying his capacity for affection, when he accuses her of

such an act

That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,

Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose

From the fir forehead of an innocent love

And sets a blister there.

Moreover, it is clear that in the tirades of the nunnery scene he is thinking almost as much of his mother as of Ophelia. (101)

Other critics agree that both women are recipients of Hamlet’s ill-will. In the Introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet, David Bevington enlightens the reader regarding the similarities between Gertrude and Ophelia as the hero sees them:

Yet to Hamlet, Ophelia is no better than another Gertrude: both are tender of heart but submissive to the will of importunate men, and so are forced into uncharacteristic vi...


... middle of paper ...


... “An Approach to Hamlet.” Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet. Ed. David Bevington. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. Rpt. from An Approach to Hamlet. Stanford, CT: Stanford University Press, 1961.

Pennington, Michael. “Ophelia: Madness Her Only Safe Haven.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from “Hamlet”: A User’s Guide. New York: Limelight Editions, 1996.

Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Excerpted from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html

Wilson, John Dover. What Happens in Hamlet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay: Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia

- Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia within Hamlet      Shakespeare developed 126 female characters in his dramas. In his tragedy Hamlet there are Ophelia and Gertrude. This essay will explore the similarities or commonality of these two characters.   One obvious feature which both Ophelia and Gertrude have in common is that they are both recipients of Hamlet’s ill-will. T.S. Elliot in his essay, “Hamlet and His Problems” explains how Gertrude is the object of the protagonist’s disgust:   Hamlet is up against the difficulty that his disgust is occasioned by his mother, but that his mother is not an adequate equivalent for it; his disgust envelops and exceeds her....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
2850 words (8.1 pages)

A Comparison of Hamlet’s Gertrude and Ophelia Essay

- A Comparison of Hamlet’s Gertrude and Ophelia       Queen Gertrude and Ophelia, the main female characters in Shakespeare’s dramatic tragedy Hamlet, have a variety of personal qualities and experiences in common. This essay, with the help of literary critics, will explore this commonality. In the Introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet, David Bevington enlightens the reader regarding the similarities between Gertrude and Ophelia as the hero sees them: Yet to Hamlet, Ophelia is no better than another Gertrude: both are tender of heart but submissive to the will of importunate men, and so are forced into uncharacteristic vices....   [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet Essays Papers]

Powerful Essays
2565 words (7.3 pages)

Comparison Of William Shakespeare 's Hamlet Essay

- ... 5, line 163). “The serpent that did sting the father’s life now wears his crown” (Act 1. Sc.5, line 45-46). The ghost revealed to Hamlet who committed the murder and how it succeeded. This revelation consisted in the pact which led to the conspiracy to prove King Claudius’s guilt. Hamlet then disclosed to Horatio what he intended to do in order to decipher the truth. “Give him heedful note, for I mine eyes will rivet to his face, and after, we will both our judgements join in censure of his seeming” (Act 3....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude, Ghost]

Powerful Essays
1008 words (2.9 pages)

Comparing Gertrude and Ophelia of Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

- A Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia in Hamlet          The Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet features two female characters in main roles, Ophelia and Gertrude. They are similar in a surprising number of ways. This essay proposes to elucidate the reader on their likeness or similarity.   It is quite obvious that both Gertrude and Ophelia are both motivated by love and a desire for quiet familial harmony among the members of their society in Elsinore. Out of love for her son does Gertrude advise:   Dear Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
1748 words (5 pages)

Essay on Shakespeare's Hamlet - Comparing Ophelia and Gertrude

- Hamlet: Ophelia and Gertrude         Ophelia and Gertrude. Two different women who seem to be trapped in the same circumstances in relation to Hamlet.         Gertrude, Hamlet's mother and the Queen of Denmark. She is married to the present King, Claudius, who is suspected by Hamlet to have killed his father, King Hamlet, who also happens to be Claudius's brother. Gerturde has somehow ended up in the plot of King Hamlet's death and in the eyes of her son, seems to be a monster and an aide to an adulterating deed....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
1988 words (5.7 pages)

Comparing Gertrude and Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

- Gertrude and Ophelia of Hamlet                                          Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, is in some ways the epicentre around which Hamlet's emotions revolve. Her role is difficult to determine; she can be seen, like Desdemona, as the passive victim of male ambition and strife, or she can be placed amongst the likes of Lady Macbeth as privy to her husband's misdeeds, and as sharing his guilt to an equal, if not greater extent. Her attitude to Ophelia seems positive ('Scattering flowers....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
908 words (2.6 pages)

Essay Contrasing Gertrude and Ophelia of Shakespeare's Hamlet

- Contrast of Gertrude and Ophelia in Hamlet         Queen Gertrude and Ophelia, the main female characters in Shakespeare’s dramatic tragedy Hamlet, have a variety of contrasting or dissimilar personal qualities and experiences. This essay, with the help of literary critics, will explore these differences.   John Dover Wilson in his book, What Happens in Hamlet, discusses what is perhaps the greatest dissimilarity between Ophelia and Gertrude – their morality:   His [Hamlet’s] mother is a criminal, has been guilty of a sin which blots out the stars for him, makes life a bestial thing, and even infects his very blood....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
1803 words (5.2 pages)

Custom Written Essays: Contrasting Gertrude and Ophelia of Shakespeare's Hamlet

- Contrasting the Ladies in Hamlet         How can anyone view or read the Shakespearean tragedy of Hamlet without observing an obvious differentiation between the characters of the two female characters. And yet, not all critics agree on even the most salient features of this contrast.   Quite opposite the criminality of the king’s wife is the innocence of Ophelia – this view is generally expressed among Shakespearean critics. Jessie F. O’Donnell expresses the total innocence of the hero’s girlfriend in “Ophelia,” originally appearing in The American Shakespeare Magazine:   O broken lily....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
1949 words (5.6 pages)

Essay about Gertrude Is An Innocent Victim

- ... ah fie. 'Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this: But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two. So excellent a king; that was, to this Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother that he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and Earth. Must I remember. 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 't; frailty, thy name is woman!” (I.II.136-150)....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Polonius, Gertrude]

Powerful Essays
1515 words (4.3 pages)

Hamlet Essay: Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia

- Hamlet – a Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia       Even though at opposite ends of the courtly society in the halls of Elsinore, the characters of Gertrude and Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet have much in common. This essay intends to explore that commonality.   Howard Felperin in his essay “O’erdoing Termagant” illustrates one point of similarity between these two female characters – they are both recipients of Hamlet’s ill-will. Here he describes Hamlet’s verbal attack on Gertrude in the closet scene:   Even Gertrude vaguely perceives that Hamlet’s speech is inspired more by ancient texts than by any immediate situation: “Ay me, what act, / That roars so loud and thunders in the...   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
3259 words (9.3 pages)