Women in the Works of Aeschylus, Eliot, and Shakespeare
There are different themes presented in Agamemnon, Hamlet, and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock; some include revenge, betrayal, and the stereotypical role of women. This paper will focus on the key similarities and differences related to the stereotypical role of women, which is presented as a common element among the three texts.
In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the main character considers women to be shallow. This is supplemented when Prufrock does not consider talking to women, or even professing his admiration to one, because he believes a woman does not have the intellectual capacity to understand him. The difference in their level and manner of thought is considered by Prufrock as the reason why he is unable to establish a strong bond with women. Moreover, Prufrock cited that the response of a woman to him, which is “that is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all” (Eliot 97-98), makes it difficult for him to express what he feels or thinks. With this, it can be observed that Prufrock believes in the prejudice that women are flawed, and it is difficult to communicate openly to them because they will always think differently from a man.
In another light, Agamemnon also represents gender roles, which are anchored on the stereotype roles of women. In an overview, the women in Agamemnon are considered as the cause of problems. This prejudice is presented in the character of Helen; she was accused of being promiscuous, and this had caused the war between Troy and Greece. In addition, other female characters in the text, including Cassandra and Clytemnestra, were considered by the Chorus as unreliable sources of information. The Chorus considered these two women as beings who have irrational thoughts and are prone to deceive men.
Furthermore, the representation of women in Hamlet is also stereotypically negative. One of these characters is Gertrude who has a character that is weak and dependent. It is also implied that she abides to the directions of the male figures in her life and that she is incapable of thinking and deciding for herself. In addition, Ophelia is also another character who is very submissive. Her submissiveness is elicited when she answered her father “I shall obey my lord” (Hamlet 1.3.125) when she was told she was not allowed to talk to Hamlet. This obedience is a proof that, during those times, women were to follow the decisions of the dominant male figure in their life, and that women were not free to carry out their decisions.
It appears that stereotypical assumptions and attitudes towards women are presented in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Agamemnon, and Hamlet. The male-authors, as well as the heroes in these texts, consider women as weaker characters. In addition, in all the three texts, women are considered as dependent and needing the protection and decision-making of powerful men. This perception that women are incapacitated to make their own decisions is addressed by the perception of Prufrock that women have lower intellects compared to men. However, in Hamlet, the female characters appear as obedient and powerless; on the other hand, in Agamemnon, the females are considered not worthy of trust.
Conclusively, the texts may have represented different gender roles, but it can be assumed that most of these are negative stereotypical roles associated to women in the society.
Aeschylus. Agamemnon: A Tragedy. Trans. Thomas Medwin. London: William
Pickering, 1832. Print.
Eliot, Thomas Stearns. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Literature Insights: T.S.
Eliot ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ and The Waste Land. Ed. C. J. Ackerley. Penrith, CA: Humanities-Ebooks.co.uk, 2007. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Costa Mesa, CA: Saddleback
Educational Publishing, 2011. Print.