Shakespeare’s portrayal of women in Hamlet, and the relationship between the male and female characters make this play unsuitable for study in schools. The play Hamlet includes lots of sexist content and reading this may effect teenagers who are in a very sensitive and easily effective age. Male characters’ behaviours towards female characters, women’s voice being ignored generally and the usage of sexual innuendos in Hamlet make this play unsuitable for study in schools.
First of all, male characters treat female characters with violence. For example, in the part where Hamlet and his mother have an argument about Gertrude’s actions lately, Hamlet hurts his mother as both physically and mentally. ‘No, by the rood, not so. You are the queen, your husband’s brother’s wife. And-would it were not so!-you are my mother.’ (Hamlet, act 3 scene 4) Hamlet tells her mother that he wished she was not his mother, and this is a horrible thing to say to a woman who looked after you for all those year. It is not read directly in the play but as it is interpreted, while hamlet is being this rude to his mother, he also uses physical violence to her. These behaviours make this play unsuitable for study for students, who are in a very effective age of their lives.
Secondly, in Hamlet, women’s voice is virtually ignored in much of the play; they are not given a chance to represent their cultural, historical and spiritual story within the traditional Western Canon; as much as male characters. For instance, in the 3rd act of the play, Hamlet talks too much and uses lots of sentences to express himself but Ophelia responds with just one or two sentences.
‘Hamlet: O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do but be merry? For, look you, how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.
Ophelia: Nay, ‘tis twice months, my lord.’(Hamlet, act 3 scene 2)
This shows the differences between the chances that both genders are given to express themselves. These separations between two genders make this book kind of sexist and it is wrong to study it in schools.
Last of all, this play includes sexual innuendos that are really inappropriate for teenagers to study. For example, Hamlet uses a sexual innuendo in his dialogue with Ophelia.’ That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs.’(Hamlet, act 3 scene 2). This seems like a simple joke for a prince to tell a young woman of the court. However, it is a horrible thing to say to a woman, Ophelia does not seem offended at all. This could be misunderstood by a student and may make him think like it is normal to talk to a female person like this. Therefore, this book should not be studied in schools.
In conclusion, Shakespeare’s portrayal of women in Hamlet, and the male characters’ behaviours towards them make this play unsuitable for study in schools. Including men’s’ oppression over women, privileges that are provided for male characters, and the usage of inappropriate sexual innuendos make it inconvenient for a teenager to study. In the 3rd act of the play, Gertrude says ‘Oh Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.’ and she expresses the feelings of women in Hamlet with one sentence. If such a sexist play like this is studied with the teenagers who are in the most sensitive chapter of their lives, how much can the society fix their mistakes about sexism and develop to equality?