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Hamlet Gender Quotes

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

Quote #7

If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for
thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs
marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough
what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go,
and quickly too. Farewell.

This is seriously mean. Here, Hamlet tells Ophelia that women make husbands into "monsters," which is allusion to the idea that cuckolds (men whose wives cheated on them) grew horns. In other words, he assumes that all women are unfaithful and all wives cheat, which is why he orders Ophelia to a "nunnery" (a convent for unmarried women but also a slang term for "brothel"). But why does he flip out like this? Does Hamlet know that Claudius and Polonius are using Ophelia as bait to eavesdrop? If so, does he view Ophelia's participation as a betrayal? Does Ophelia's seeming betrayal remind Hamlet of his mother's betrayal of his father?

Quote #8

I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God
has given you one face, and you make yourselves
another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and
nick-name God's creatures, and make your wantonness
your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath
made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages:
those that are married already, all but one, shall
live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a
nunnery, go.

Here, Hamlet uses the artificiality of cosmetics ("paintings") as an analogy for women's deception. Hamlet says fake behavior (playing dumb, walking, talking, and dancing in an affected way) is like makeup that covers a "face" —it makes a woman appear to be something she's not. In other words, Hamlet agrees with decades of teen magazine advice: just be yourself, girls! (Only, something tells us that Hamlet wouldn't actually dig that.)

Quote #9

By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do't, if they come to't;
By cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she, before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.
So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.

We'll let literary critic Carol Thomas Neely handle this one: when Ophelia goes mad, her disturbed language sounds a lot like patriarchal oppression (the oppression of women by men) (source). Take this son: it's about the loss of a maiden's virginity (she's "tumbled") and a broken promise of marriage. Just like girls in almost any historical era, she's stuck: if she doesn't have sex with the guy, he'll dump her for being a prude; if she does, he'll dump her for being—well, not a prude.

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