Passages reflecting

Hamlet's Thoughts about Women

Mel Gibson as Hamlet and Glen Close as the Queen

"Frailty, thy name is woman!" (1.2.146). Hamlet says this in the middle of his first soliloquy, as he is expressing his disgust at the speed with which his mother went from his father's grave to his uncle's bed. [Scene Summary]
Hamlet exclaims to Ophelia, "Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them" (3.1.138-140). He is denouncing her as though she is all women and is personally responsible for the way women trap men with their flirtatious tricks. [Scene Summary]
"O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell, / If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones, / To flaming youth let virtue be as wax" (3.4.82-84), says Hamlet, as he berates his mother for her marriage to his uncle. He seems to assume that she's only in it for the sex, and that the sexual impulse, especially in a "matron," is "rebellious hell." [Scene Summary]
"As woman's love" (3.2.154), Hamlet wisecracks when Ophelia remarks that the prologue to The Murder of Gonzago is "brief." [Scene Summary]
Again speaking to Ophelia as though she represents all women, Hamlet says to Ophelia, "So you mis-take your husbands" (3.2.252). She has just remarked that one of his wisecracks is "Still better, and worse," that is, more witty, with worse indecency. His comeback says that there's nothing really wrong with the joke, she has just taken it wrong, as women "mis-take" their husbands. His thought seems to be that women are supposed to take ("must take") their husbands for "better and worse," but instead they wrongly take ("mis-take") the worse husband, rather than the better, as his mother has done. [Scene Summary]
"Farewell, dear mother" (4.3.49), says Hamlet to the King. The King corrects him, "Thy loving father, Hamlet," but Hamlet explains, "father and mother is man and wife; man and wife is one flesh; and so, my mother" (4.3.51-52). Here he is making a paradox out of something that tortures him. His mother was "one flesh" with his father, and now she is "one flesh" with his uncle, so which flesh is the "one flesh"? [Scene Summary]
Talking of a skull, Hamlet says that it might have belonged to a courtier, but is "now my Lady Worm's" (5.1.88). There seems to be no particular reason for a flesh-eating maggot to be a "Lady," except that Hamlet said it that way. Later in the same scene, Hamlet says to Yorick's skull, "Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come" (5.1.193-195). When Hamlet says "my lady," he means any woman who paints her face with cosmetics. And "favour" is "appearance," especially a good appearance. So Hamlet means that no matter how much make-up she uses, the lady will eventually be bone-white. [Scene Summary]
"It is but foolery; but it is such a kind of gain-giving, as would perhaps trouble a woman" (5.2.215-216). Thus Hamlet describes his bad feelings about the upcoming fencing match with Laertes. It turns out that Hamlet's second thoughts are not "foolery" after all. He dies of Laertes' treachery during the fencing match. [Scene Summary]