Hamlet many philosophers acknowledge a person’s personality, intelligence,

Hamlet is written during the English Renaissance and multiple aspects of that era can be seen throughout the play. In the early 16th century, many new ideas and theories arose such as creating music, painting, and poetry. One philosophy which had surfaced during this time of rebirth was humanism. The History Guide claims, “The return to favor of the pagan classics stimulated the philosophy of secularism, the appreciation of worldly pleasures, and above all intensified the assertion of personal independence and individual expression” (Kreis, Steven. “The History Guide: Renaissance Humanism.”). Because exploring new ideas became significant in this era, many philosophers acknowledge a person’s personality, intelligence, and the aspect that humans are different. Because of the growing curiosity, many individuals view things within different perspectives. Hamlet displays one of his interests by making reference about humanistic philosophy. While having a conversation with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet informs the two about his lack of spirits and continues with, “What a piece of work is a man, how/noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form/and moving how express and admirable” (Hamlet, II.ii.302-4). Hamlet uses “men” to indicate mankind and admires the characteristics of an individual. This demonstrates Hamlet’s interest about people, something that was not thought much of before the English Renaissance. Although the English Renaissance was a time of rebirth, many expectations were still placed upon individuals within the society. In this play, Shakespeare presents the continuous sexism experienced during this era. When Polonius, Ophelia’s father, questions Ophelia about her conversation with Laertes, she admits that her and Hamlet share mutual affection towards one another. Hearing this, Polonius disregards his daughter’s feelings and says, “This is for all./I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth/Have you so slander any moment leisure/As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet” (I.iii.137-40). Without hesitation, Ophelia replies, “I shall obey, my lord” (I.ii.142). Ophelia’s quick agreement to Polonius’s orders is an example of her obedience. During that period, women were treated differently. Ophelia is portrayed as a character who is pure and obedient, typical expectations of what women were described as. Not only that, but when King Claudius and Polonius plans to use Ophelia to eavesdrop on Hamlet, Ophelia does not refuse, despite claiming to love Hamlet. During Hamlet’s and Ophelia’s conversation, Hamlet asks Ophelia, “Where’s your father?” (III.i.138) and she replies, “At home, my lord” (III.i.139). This further proves her willingness to obey her father rather than doing what she wants. Not only does Shakespeare validate how the normal expectations for women were vastly different from men, he also comments on the hierarchy.