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Text and Traditions

Text and Traditions

Additional scholarly research is essential for this assessment. You must successfully integrate into your
discussion at least 2 secondary critical sources to pass. One of these critical sources must originate from
the Norton Critical Editions (if you use Hamlet and/or Oedipus Tyrannus to answer a question) or from the
archival repository, JSTOR. The second source may come from any appropriate academic book or
journal article of your choice. Non-scholarly sources are not permitted for this task.

To do well in this assessment, you will need to demonstrate critical engagement with, and close reading
of the primary texts, and an awareness of the key themes of the unit. You also need to use appropriate
textual evidence, integrate relevant quotes from the texts and secondary critical readings, and
demonstrate a solid command of the academic standards of writing, referencing, and presentation.

Examine the attitude towards women in


Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus
In the play Hamlet, women are represented as inferior compared with their male
counterparts, owing to the perspective that they have no agency or voice. These expectations are
particularly expressed in the roles and positions of women as depicted by the fact that Polonius’
daughter, Ophelia, has to heed to his father’s advice against Hamlet. She has to stop meeting and
to ignore Hamlet’s letters as ordered by the father. She actually has no power whatsoever to
follow her wishes and instead has to do what she is instructed to do. In this statement, women are
depicted as weak and needing protection from their superior counterparts; the men (Cox, 2011).
In this case, Ophelia conforms to the common idea of women having no agency as she has been
taught and as expected by the society.
Oedipus’ concern for the future outcome of his daughters in the shadow of his downfall
equally proves the position of women; in the shadow of men. This obviously proves that the
daughters, as women have to live under their father’s shadow. The downfall of the father has
devastating impact on the way the daughters will fair in the society and how people view them.
Men were seen as always having the upper hand in terms of decision making whereby in the play
hamlet allow men to be holders of higher positions in the society (Kuiper, 2013). In contrast,
women are viewed as weak, unappreciated, having to live under the men’s shadows. In both
cases, women are portrayed as the weaker sex and needing men for support and direction. They
are depicted in a manner to suggest that it would be hard for them to survive without the
guidance and protection of men.


Cox, M. (2011). Hamlet, William Shakespeare. Deddington: Philip Allan Updates.
Kuiper, K. (2013). The History Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare. New York: Britannica
Educational Pub.

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