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 Table of Contents

Hamlet Gender Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) according to the Norton edition

Quote #4

I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.

After Laertes warns his little sister to keep her legs closed, Ophelia points out the double standard at work in Laertes's advise. In other words, our girl's not afraid to tell her bro that he's got no room to talk about chastity, especially given that he's been running around like a "puff'd and reckless libertine." Ophelia's remarks here also demonstrate that she's not necessarily the wimp some literary critics paint her to be. Here, she gives as good as she gets. So, why does she end up drowning in a brook?

Quote #5

[…]From this time
Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence;
Set your entreatments at a higher rate
Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,
Believe so much in him, that he is young
And with a larger tether may he walk
Than may be given you: in few, Ophelia,
Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,
Not of that dye which their investments show,
But mere implorators of unholy suits,
Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
The better to beguile. This is for all:
I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,
Have you so slander any moment leisure,
As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
Look to't, I charge you: come your ways.
I shall obey, my lord.

After a lengthy speech about why Ophelia can't trust anything Hamlet says or promises (including any and all "vows" of love), Polonius orders Ophelia to stop seeing Hamlet. As an unmarried daughter, Ophelia has no choice but to "obey," and she does. We soon learn that Ophelia rejects all of Hamlet's letters and refuses to see him—until she gets used as bait to spy on Hamlet. Essentially, Ophelia is powerless —over her own body, over her relationships, over her activities, and even over her speech. It's no wonder that she cracks.

Quote #6

Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
A scullion!

Hamlet seems to think that not avenging his father's murder makes him a coward and, therefore, like a woman—and not a nice, respectable woman: a "whore," a "drab," and a "scullion." Nice.

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