Frailty, thy name is woman.

Essay by aaliyaHigh School, 12th gradeA-, April 2003

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Frailty is defined as being fragile, foible, and having a moral weakness (Oxford Dictionary). At one point during the play Hamlet, Hamlet states, "Frailty, thy name is women" (i.ii.146), generalizing that all women are frail. During the period Hamlet was written, the society was patriarchal, therefore, the women were very dependent on the men, and were unable to exist independently. Through their submissiveness Gertrude and Ophelia are treated as marionettes, who are easily manipulated by those around them. Thus their behavior portrays the frailty of their characters. They are similar in the sense that they are frail, however, they displayed distinct aspects of frailty. Gertrude lacks moral fiber and Ophelia exhibits emotional weakness and weak character.

Gertrude demonstrates moral frailty, as she does not contend to common rules and beliefs. She hastily marries Claudius, longing for the affection she loses when her husband is murdered.

She is oblivious to the fact that her marriage to her brother-in-law was immoral, but she marries him to maintain the protection and affection that she desperately needs. Although Gertrude is Queen of Denmark, she does not have a strong presentation within the play--monarchs, being men or women, are active in their country. Frightened of arousing contradictions, Gertrude allows the men to make decisions affecting the court without consulting her--For example, she allowed for Claudius to independently reach the conclusion that Hamlet should leave for the well being of the people of the court (iii.iii.1-7). Gertrude makes small conversations and then is told to leave, an order she obeys readily and without complaint. Claudius states, "Madam, come" (i.ii.122) and "O Gertrude, come away" (iv.ii.28), and Gertrude does not refuse to reject his orders; when he says "Sweet Gertrude, leave us too" (iii.i.28), Gertrude replies to him by saying...