The Role of Women in Shakespeare’s Plays
In Shakespearean plays, women have always played important roles. Whether their purpose was to create the base of the play, main conflicts, or generate moral and cultural questions, women are always put in arduous situations. Often, the role of women surpasses the role of male heroes in Shakespeare’s writings, it is almost unfathomable and almost provocative, considering societals’ moral compass in that period. In Romeo and Juliet, the Nurse plays one of the main women characters. Her role is to care for Juliet like a present-day nanny. Juliet views her as a second mother. Contrasting due to her being in a different class then Juliet’s actual mother, Lady Capulet- the lower class. The nurse also adds humor to the play; in Act 2 Scene 4 she states “What saucy merchant was this that full of ropery?”. This lightents the tragic ora of the play and only her and Mercutio do this.
In addition, Hamlet has a captivatingly strong female in it. Queen Gertrude, widow of Old Hamlet, has a type of conditional strength. When she remarried to Claudius, that alone takes great bravery. A new marriage so soon after her husband‘s demise would be subject to canard in the people she was ruling. In this Shakespearean play, the negative connotation invoking the women is exhibited by the main character, Hamlet. He says harsh things to women and treats them as if they are inferior to him.
At first it seems as if he is just misogynistic, but in actuality he treats the women this way because of how they’ve betrayed him through their actions; his mother Gertrude married only a month after Hamlet’s father’s death, and second female Ophelia heeds her father’s command not to see Hamlet despite professing her love for him. Hamlet sees both women as weak and too dependent on the men in their lives, and his bitterness leads him to believe that all women are untrustworthy. He becomes cynical about women in general, showing a particular obsession with what he perceives to be a connection between female sexuality and moral corruption. This motif of misogyny, or hatred of women, occurs sporadically throughout the play, but it is an important factor in Hamlet’s relationships with Ophelia and Gertrude. Despite the women being viewed negatively, their role in the story is very important to the display of Hamlet’s personality.
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