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Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia

Hamlet — Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia

Gertrude and Ophelia occupy the leading roles for females in the Shakespearean drama Hamlet. As women they share many things in common: attitudes from others, shallow or simple minds and outlooks, etc. This essay will delve into what they have in common.

The protagonist’s negative attitude toward both women is an obvious starting point. John Dover Wilson explains in What Happens in Hamlet how the prince holds both of the women in disgust:

The difficulty is not that, having once loved Ophelia, Hamlet ceases to do so. This is explained, as most critics have agreed, by his mother’s conduct which has put him quite out of love with Love and has poisoned his whole imagination. The exclamation “Frailty thy name is woman!” in the first soliloquy, we come to feel later, embraces Ophelia as well as Gertrude, while in the bedroom scene he as good as taxes his mother with destroying his capacity for affection, when he accuses her of

such an act

That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,

Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose

From the fir forehead of an innocent love

And sets a blister there.

Moreover, it is clear that in the tirades of the nunnery scene he is thinking almost as much of his mother as of Ophelia. (101)

Other critics agree that both women are recipients of Hamlet’s ill-will. In the Introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet, David Bevington enlightens the reader regarding the similarities between Gertrude and Ophelia as the hero sees them:

Yet to Hamlet, Ophelia is no better than another Gertrude: both are tender of heart but submissive to the will of importunate men, and so are forced into uncharacteristic vi…

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… “An Approach to Hamlet.” Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet. Ed. David Bevington. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. Rpt. from An Approach to Hamlet. Stanford, CT: Stanford University Press, 1961.

Pennington, Michael. “Ophelia: Madness Her Only Safe Haven.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from “Hamlet”: A User’s Guide. New York: Limelight Editions, 1996.

Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Excerpted from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995.

Wilson, John Dover. What Happens in Hamlet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

The Pros and Cons of Ozone

Here is an environmental question worth asking, “Is ozone good or bad?” Need more context? Okay. Has ozone been beneficial or detrimental to humans over the course of the past century? Unsure? Well read the following and decide. If you’re not motivated to do so, consider that if ozone weren’t part of the Earth, neither would we be, and, more immediately, if ozone levels aren’t kept within certain narrow ranges in the future, the biosphere will suffer greatly.

What is ozone? Ozone is the gas in our atmosphere which has the chemical formula, O3, meaning that each of its molecules consists of three oxygen atoms. Although seemingly similar to the much more common diatomic oxygen, O2, which we require consumption of in every breath, ozone is quite different. While our atmosphere consists of nearly 21 percent O2, ozone is found in much, much smaller quantities, generally less than 1-part-per-million (that is, less than 0.0001 percent). Also, while O2’s concentration is equally distributed throughout the atmosphere (in terms of relative concentration), ozone has two distinct concentrations, that which resides near the surface (referred to as tropospheric ozone) and that which resides in the upper atmosphere (more than 10 miles up, referred to as stratospheric ozone). Ozone also has vastly different physical and chemical properties than O2. While most animals require O2 to survive, ozone is poisonous and very capable of destroying lungs, damaging immune systems and reducing crop production. Ozone also creates potential problems because it is a greenhouse gas and, thus, traps heat energy inside the earth’s atmosphere which means it can result in “global warming” if levels become elevated. However, ozone isn’t always “bad,” it actually …

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…of these vehicles in order for positive steps to be made.

In summary, ozone is a multi-dimensional gas with its many influences on humanity and life in general. Some of its effects are considered essential while others are highly undesirable. Human-directed changes in the abundance of ozone, i.e., lower amounts in the upper atmosphere and higher amounts in the lower atmosphere, have created more problems for us and other organisms on the planet. There are clearly things that humans can and are doing that can alleviate these problems. Perhaps ozone can now begin to be understood for the vital (yet dangerous) resource that it is.


Goudie, Andrew. (2000) The Human Impact on the Natural Environment. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 511 pp.

Philander, S. George. (1998) Is the Temperature Rising. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 262 pp.

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