The fact that Claudius killed King Hamlet adds rationale to Prince Hamlet’s anger, but is not the source of it. Hamlet’s contempt towards his mother and uncle, as well as his misogynistic attitude, first appear before he learns the nature of his father’s death. As events confirm his femininity throughout the play, Hamlet begins to act more hostile and “masculine”—an effort that eventually leads to his downfall.

Hamlet is clearly very upset about his mother’s marriage to his uncle, but the fact that he addresses these feelings only in soliloquy reveals that he feels threatened by his mother. Instead Hamlet takes out his anger on Ophelia, the weaker of the female figures in the play; he easily asserts his dominance over her by having sex with her.

The injury with regards to Claudius goes much deeper. Upon King Hamlet’s death, the throne was passed on to Claudius, rather than Prince Hamlet. This suggests that Claudius is more capable and masculine, and Hamlet more feminine.

In comparison with the other males in the play, Hamlet does indeed seem more feminine. He is, overwhelmingly, meditative (as revealed through his soliloquies) and much more non-violent. While neither Laertes nor Claudius hesitate in their decisions to kill Hamlet, he seems to constantly question himself. Femininity my not have been such a problem for Hamlet, had not these masculine figures berated women constantly. “Whore” is a catchall term for anything male characters find less than pleasing. Hamlet realizes all of this on some level—in Act II, Scene 2, he actually refers to himself as a whore.

From that point on, Hamlet continually attempts to distance himself from a womanly image. When Osric tells him of the fencing match proposed by Claudius, it proves to be all too much of a temptation for Hamlet. He sees the opportunity to prove his manliness to Laertes, Claudius, his mother, and the rest of the court, and it becomes too much to resist. Hamlet agrees to the match.

In many senses, Hamlet does prove himself in this match. He does, as least, kill Claudius, as well as Laertes. However, even as Hamlet dies, a new threat to his power and machismo approaches—Fortinbras’ army.

Hamlet’s own effeminateness leads to his misogynism. He attempts to separate himself from women by expressing his hatred of them and at the same time attempting to assert his masculinity. This need to separate himself from womanhood, borne out of this fear of his mother’s power, is what leads to Hamlet’s death.

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