Throughout many of Shakespeare's plays that we have read throughout the semester so far, we have encountered many dependent, weak and unspoken female characters. In Shakespeare's world women are portrayed as people who do not display any sort of power or authority over anything/anyone, including themselves. The way Ophelia and Gertrude are treated and looked upon throughout "Hamlet" further conveys the loss of control and absence of rights that they experience in their lives. Their honor and virginity is closely examined and protected by the male figures in their lives. Both Gertrude and Ophelia are are seen in sexual ways and are both looked down upon by Hamlet, because of the supposedly "whorish" actions they portray. Ophelia is overly protected by her brothers and her father, as they focus much of their attention on the reputation on their family, as it lies in the hands of Ophelia. Both female characters are given instructions by the male figures in their families, as they both obey them.
It is interesting to me, how unimportant and empty the female characters are portrayed as, but are ironically a necessity to the men's lives and the reputation of the family combined. Ophilia is seen as this "empty vessel" but in reality she is a very important part of her family. She could technically become more powerful than her brothers and father combined. I think that in reality, Ophelia is a potential threat to her family and that's why they are so protective over her virginity and chasity, as her chasity does hold her value and therefore the value of their family.