Women Theme Analysis

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Themes and Colors
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Hamlet, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Women Theme Icon

There are two important issues regarding women in Hamlet: how Hamlet sees women and women's social position. Hamlet's view of women is decidedly dark. In fact, the few times that Hamlet's pretend madness seems to veer into actual madness occur when he gets furious at women. Gertrude's marriage to Claudius has convinced Hamlet that women are untrustworthy, that their beauty is a cover for deceit and sexual desire. For Hamlet, women are living embodiments of appearance's corrupt effort to eclipse reality.

As for women's social position, its defining characteristic is powerlessness. Gertrude's quick marriage to Claudius, though immoral, is also her only way to maintain her status. Ophelia has even fewer options. While Hamlet waits to seek revenge for his father's death, Ophelia, as a woman, can't act—all she can do is wait for Laertes to return and take his revenge. Ophelia's predicament is symbolic of women's position in general in Hamlet: they are completely dependent on men.

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Women Quotes in Hamlet

Below you will find the important quotes in Hamlet related to the theme of Women.
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes
Frailty, thy name is woman!
Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Gertrude
Page Number: 1.2.150
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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Act 3, scene 1 Quotes
Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me.
Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Ophelia
Page Number: 3.1.131-134
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile