Under Pressure: Suicide, Gender, and Agency in Hamlet

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Juliana Peragine (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site: http://library.unca.edu/
Evan Gurney

Abstract: In this paper, the author explores the correlation between suicide, gender, and agency in the play Hamlet written by William Shakespeare. The traits and dialogue of Ophelia, Gertrude, and Hamlet, as well as the historical definitions of suicide and madness, are dissected to expose some of Shakespeare’s intentions that have been overlooked or misinterpreted by scholars in the past. Specifically, the controversial deaths of Gertrude and Ophelia are examined for their participation in a larger portrayal of female agency. The actions of the female characters are also compared with the male discourse of suicide as presented by Hamlet and Horatio to provide a more accurate assessment of suicide and gender in the Elizabethan period. Rather than being passive characters used as contrasts for the male characters, Ophelia and Gertrude (as well as other female characters in Shakespeare’s works) are active participants whose subversive actions drive the major events of the play.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Shakespeare, suicide, gender

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