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The article focuses on literary representations of women’s sight and hearing in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the example of Ophelia. The emphasis is put on the transgressive usage of the senses and the gendering of sensory perceptions which fulfill many cultural functions: determining our cognition, being the tools of power relations or conditioning our sensations. Sensual perception is examined as an unstable cultural construct undergoing changes in time. The textual analysis of selected fragments from Hamlet presents the way in which the fictional heroine − Ophelia − perceives, revealing the manner in which cultural formations of the senses were constructed in Shakespeare’s drama. Linguistic images of transgressive female perception emerge from a comparison between representations of sensual experience of male and female characters in the play. Ophelia sensory experiences differ from those of the male characters in the play. The sensory code which delineates boundaries of human perception, like many other cultural codes, deprives this female character of her own audition and vision. Ophelia, who loses her senses, is portrayed as breaking the rules that exist in Renaissance society by perceptual transgression.
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