Why were women played by men?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread

Hi there, I was wondering if you could explain why women were acted out by men during the Shakespearean period? Also could you explain to me further why Ophelia was always being refered to as "poor Ophelia", "dear Ophelia", "the most beautiful Ophelia", "the fair Ophelia" i think you get my point. And what Hamlet's metaphor "frailty, thy name is womam" means. I ma conducting an investigation into Hamlet's women and even just one answer to any of these questions would be great.

-- Kayleigh Miah (kayleeeeey@hotmail.com), November 21, 2003


I think it was illegal for women to appear on the stage in England because it was considered indecent. Unlike other playwrights who go to the other extreme, such as George Bernard Shaw and Arthur Miller, Shakespeare offers no directions and commentaries in his scripts. All clues to action and character are in the scripted lines to be spoken. All these comments spoken by others in referring to Ophelia give clues to her character which she couldn't because of her purity, modesty and relative quietness, speak of herself. 'Frailty: thy name is woman' is not really a metaphor. It is "apostrophe" - here, personifying and speaking to a quality, frailty. It is a way of saying that women are weak and vulnerable.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@fastmail.com.au), November 21, 2003.

I think that men played the part of women because it was thought that men were superior to that of women.Ophelia was often thought of as an innocent maiden.the metaphor is to tell us that hamlet thought that women were merely unworthy of trust.

-- unknown (ulunav78210@yahoo.com), February 11, 2004.

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