Dau faes yn y Deyrnas Unedig gyfoes lle mae tystiolaeth o anghydraddoldeb ethnig

Un maes yn y Deyrnas Unedig gyfoes lle mae tystiolaeth o anghydraddoldeb ethnig yw ym maes trosedd. Yn ôl yr adroddiad Ystadegau Swyddogol (2012/3) mae pobl o GLlE (grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig) yn fwy tebygol o ddioddef o drosedd na phobl wen. Mae’r canran o bobl sy’n marw o lofruddio wedi gostwng (ac yn ei barhau). Er hyn, cododd y nifer o ddioddefwyr yn 2006/7, ond wedi gostwng eto rhwng 2009/12. Darganfyddiad gan y Comisiwn i Hawliau Dynol a Chydraddoldeb yw bod ifancwyr GLIE yn chwe gwaith yn fwy tebygol o gael eu ‘stopio ac archwilio’ gan yr heddlu na phobl wen. ‘Sunday Times’ – o fewn y deg mlynedd diwethaf, mae tua chwe chant o blant o GLIE dan deg mlwydd oed wedi cael eu stopio ac archwilio, fel arfer dan yr amheuaeth yr ydynt yn dal cyffuriau.

Ond mae Waddington yn gwrthddweud y syniad bod hwn yn fater o hiliaeth, ond yn lle mater o leoliad. Mae gorgynrychiolaeth o bobl GLIE mewn ardaloedd tlawd, er enghraifft, Hackney, ac mae’r heddlu yn targedu ardaloedd sy’n profi i fod yn llawer o risg.

Soniodd ‘y Guardian’, mae 40% o bob person yn y carchar yn dod o GLIE. Mae hyn yn fwy o gorgynrychiolaeth nag sydd yn America. Yn y 70au, roedd llawer yn stereoteipio bechgyn croenddu fel y prif rai sy’n gyfrifol am fygio er mwyn cymryd y ffocws y cyhoedd oddi wrth y problemau gwirioneddol. Roeddent yn cael eu defnyddio fel Bwch Dihangol y gymdeithas i gysgodi problemau megis diweithdra.

Daeth yr adroddiad Macpherson i’r casgliad bod yr heddlu yn esiampl o hiliaeth sefydliadol. Hyd yn oed y Comisiynwyr Uwch, Bernard Hogan-Howe, yr heddlu o’r farn mai hiliaeth sefydliadol yn broblem o fewn yr heddlu,  “If other people think we are institutionally racist, then we are ”. Ond mynegodd bod yr hiliaeth sy’n bodoli yn yr heddlu yn wrthrych i’r hiliaeth sydd yn y gymdeithas ehangach. Mae Baroness Young yn ffocysu ar bobl Asiaidd fel dioddefwyr hiliol o fewn yr heddlu. Mynegodd bod llai nag 1% o droseddau yn cael ei gyflawni gan Fwslimiaid yn y Deyrnas Unedig, ond er hyn, maent yn dal yn wynebu hiliaeth yn y gymdeithas, pwy sydd yn eu gweld fel “derfysgwyr”.

Maes arall yn y Deyrnas Unedig gyfoes lle mae tystiolaeth o anghydraddoldebau ethnig yw ym maes addysg. Yn ôl y ‘Sefydliad Joseph Rowntree’, y risg o dlodi yn uwch i bobl o Bacistan, Affrica a Bangladesh. Hefyd, mae cyfradd teuluoedd un rhiant yn uwch ymhlith pobl Afro-Caribiaidd (57%), lle mae’r gyfradd o 23% ymysg pobl wen Brydeinig. O ran amddifadedd diwylliannol, sy’n chwarae rhan enfawr mewn addysg plant, mae 83% o rieni o Bangladesh heb gymwysterau, gan gymharu gydag 14% o rieni gwyn Prydeinig. Mae plant o grwpiau lleiafrifol ethnig yn fel arfer yn siarad iaith wahanol i Saesneg yn cael ei siarad gartref. Gall hyn rhoi anfantais fawr arnynt hefyd yn yr ysgol. Credodd Ball bod rhieni o grwpiau lleiafrifol ethnig yn methu cael eu plant i mewn i ysgolion gwell oherwydd, i ychwanegu, yn ôl Bernstein, côd iaith eang gan athrawon a rhieni dosbarth canol. Felly mae gan blant dosbarth canol gwyn mwy o fantais.

Cyflwynodd yr adroddiad ESTYN (1993-1994) adroddiad a oedd wedi uwcholeio’r ffaith bod disgyblion ag ethnigrwydd Affro-Caribi yn ddwywaith yn fwy tebygol o gael eu gwahardd o’r ysgol na ddisgyblion gwyn ac Asiaidd. Ffeindiodd Cole bod llyfrau hanes a daearyddiaeth yn annog credoau hiliol ac imperialaidd. Mae Wright yn atgyfnerthu credoau Cole. Cymerodd sylw ar ddau lyfr daearyddol yr 80au. Felly mae modd ddadlau bod hiliaeth sefydliadol ym maes addysg yn ogystal. Cytunodd Sewell gan ddweud bod llawer iawn o ddisgyblion o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn gweld addysg mewn olau cadarnhaol, ond nid y system addysgol, felly nid yw eu hagweddau am eu hastudiaethau sy’n gadael iddynt i lawr, ond yr ysgolion yn benodol.

Mae’r cwricwlwm yn ogystal yn ethnocentrig yn ôl llawer o gymdeithasegwyr. Hynny yw, dim ond ieithoedd Ewropeaidd sy’n cael eu dysgu. Gall hyn rhoi rhai plant o grwpiau lleiafrifol ethnig anfantais.

Soniodd Gillborn bod athrawon yn trin disgyblion o grwpiau lleiafrifol ethnig yn wahanol oherwydd y stereoteipiau negyddol. Ffeindiodd Mac an Ghail tystiolaeth o stereoteipiau diwylliannol yn yr ysgol ar ochr yr athrawon. Hefyd y dywedir bod athrawon yn annog merched Affro-Caribi i wneud pynciau galwedigaethol yn hytrach na rhai academaidd. Cefnogodd Wright y syniad hwn i raddau trwy ddweud er bod athrawon yn credu’n gryf mewn gwaredu hiliaeth, ond mae gan lawer ohonynt hiliaeth fewnol, ac yn gweithredu stereoteipiau, megis y cred bod merched Asiaidd yn dawel iawn yn y dosbarth.

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Assessment on the belief that social prejudice is the root of all inequality

Inequality exists in all societies, in some form or another, and Marxists support the idea that the root of all inequality is social class prejudice. This is based on the Marxist conflicting theory, and the fundamental belief is that the ‘Bourgeoisie’ (the ruling class) use the capitalist economy in order to exploit and oppress the ‘Proletariat’ (the working-class). Aristocrats enjoy their economic advantage and the power they have over their workers, and thus they treat them badly to ensure that the system stays as it is. They have influence on culture and on everyday life in communities because their control of the social infrastructure influences the social superstructure, such as the media, the schooling system and social services. Contemporary evidence suggests that this has a level of truth because Rupert Murdoch has been condemned for influencing the media to favour the Conservative party for his own political and economic gains. It is the superstructure that is responsible for reinforcing inequality through primary and secondary socialisation, according to Marxists.

The working-class do not react to this because they are in a state of “fake awareness”, which means that they are ignorant of the realistic situation by being led to believe that society is a meritocracy. Althusser once stated that schools are “big machines that create myths”, and one belief is that society is meritocratic. The “ideological state apparatus”, meaning the social superstructure that controls ideas and beliefs, for instance the media, is what is what reinforces these states of misdirected understanding.

One area where there is evidence of social inequality is in education. According to the ‘Department of Education and Skills’, there is a link between social class and academic achievement. In 2005, for instance, 76% of children from professional backgrounds achieved to get five or more GCSE’s between A*-C, compared to about 32% of students from non-academic backgrounds. Despite the fact that each child’s grades have been gradually improving over the years, the gap continues to widen and the social class inequalities in academic achievement is more obvious than ever. These statistics reinforce the clear link between cultural/material capital and achievement in schools.

Bowles and Gintis are of the opinion that children, especially the ones from poorer backgrounds, learn obedience to the unfair system, and accept the fact that they are powerless. They argue that schools reinforce inequality through encouraging children to remain in their social classes, for instance, by openly assuming that poorer will end up in low-payed jobs, and in the same sense, expecting kids from richer backgrounds to achieve professional jobs, such as in business. In his study of “Lads and Ear’oles” in the 70s, the sociologist Paul Willis learnt of differing opinions and perspectives amongst male students from both social classes. He came to the conclusion that children from working class backgrounds tended to have a negative opinion of school and were much more likely to mess around in class. In the end, they tended to have far less school achievement than their richer counterparts, and were much more likely to accept working-class jobs and statuses.

Another area where there is evidence of social inequality is in the health sector. According to the ‘World Health Organisation’, men from the most deprived areas of Britain tended to have nine fewer years of life in comparison to men from the richest areas. There is seven years difference for the female equivalent between the richest and the poorest communities. The general assumption in science is that they usually have worse diets, because they have less money to spend on healthy food and usually have a worse understanding of nutrition. These factors can increase the likelihood of obesity, and other eating disorders. In some cases, this can lead to school bullying, which would mean that they were more distracted from their academic subjects. Complications of health can also lead to mental illnesses, such as depression, which often leads to the same conclusions as bullying. Wilkinson supports this crucial link by stating that there is a relationship that can be measured between poor health and yearly income. In the ‘General Home Inspection’ of 1999, 32% of working-class families had stated that they had at least one member suffering from chronic illnesses, in comparison to 12.5% of those from families who has professional careers. Not being able to afford prescriptions poses as a threat for the working class in securing good health. Though this is only applicable to England, as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have free prescriptions. Some individuals are of the opinion that private healthcare offer better treatment (though this is entirely subjective), and if we hypothetically consider this to be true, this puts the poorer communities under a disadvantage because they do not have an equal access to top-quality health services like the richest communities.

Social injustices can explain fewer achievements amongst people from ethnic minorities in the education system and in society as a whole. There is an unfair percentage of ethnic minority prisoners who also experience material and cultural deprivation. About 49% of all prisoners are black (‘Prison Reform Trust’), and around 57% of Afro-Caribbean families are single parent, compared to about 23% of ethnically white families.  Generally, children from ethnic minority groups tend to underperform academically, and a larger proportion of them receive free school meals (‘FSM’). 38% of Pakistani children receive FSM, including %*% of Bangladeshis, 26% of Afro-Caribbean students and 41% of ethnically black African students. In the workplace, Afro-Caribbean people tend to experience the least amount of social mobility and have high unemployment rates. This may explain the crime rates – this is according to Merton’s ‘strain theory’, where people commit crime because of status frustration. Simple survival tactics would be another reason for many individuals turning towards crime. Therefore, people from ethnic minority groups tend to do worse in school because they are more likely to come from more disadvantaged backgrounds. They are more likely to turn towards crime for the same reasons.

Many Feminist Marxist are of the opinion that social inequality can also be heavily associated with gender inequality. They believe that women are portrayed to be inferior in the capitalist economy, and Margaret Benston develops this argument further by stating that the role of women in the capitalist system is to mainly do domestic chores for free and to nurture the workers of the futures, who will contribute to the economy themselves later on in life. To extend on this point, many believe that women are merely “second-hand workers”. The Second World War (1939-1945) would be shining evidence of this. It is where women took over the jobs of their husbands who went to war. Though it must be remembered that society on a whole has modernised since this period, so it would be relatively hard making legitimate comparisons between the two. Also, Feminist Marxists believe that women still face the “glass ceiling”, which stops most of them from reaching the top jobs. Also in economically tough times, it is easier to get rid of women than men. Thus, if we consider this approach, it is easy to see the link between gender and class inequality.

Max Weber agreed on the fundamentals of Marxism, though many of his ideas differ greatly from Karl Marx’s. He, along with many of his followers, agreed that society was split into four different categories: ‘the Privileged’ – the ones at the top of society, ‘the petti Bourgeoisie’ – the businessmen and the self-employed, ‘the White Collar workers – the lower middle-class, and ‘the Blue Collar workers – the non-professional workers. Weber gave consideration towards social class, but they also put emphasis on the individual’s status and power in the community. To Weber, each of these factors are different, but to Marx, each were synonymous. Status refers to a person’s social position and the respect society has for them, whereas power refers to the individual’s membership to the formal and informal sections of society.

Weber’s ideas allows us to understand more about ethnic and gender inequality that exists in society, and these exist for reasons that aren’t necessarily associated only with class inequality. Instead they are example of status inequality. It also explains that status and power are effectively in the hands of the most populous ethnic group, and in the UK, that means for ethnically white people. This means that it is much harder for people from ethnic minorities to compete. This is why people from ethnic minorities are often associated with low-wage jobs, sub-standard quality of living, and disadvantaged communities. Officially, 70% of Bangladeshi children live in poverty (‘Poverty.org’), compared to about 60% of Pakistanis, 30% of the Indian and Afro-Caribbean community and 20% of ethnically white people.  Weberian theorists argue that even when people from ethnic minority backgrounds do the same job as white people, they don’t receive the same status. This is because the former groups often face more prejudice and discrimination by white workers because they see non-white workers as threats to their jobs. In consequence to this, people from ethnic minority groups suffer from status inequality as well as class prejudice.

The ‘dual market theory’ (another Weberian concept by Barron and Norris) splits society into two different sects: the primary and secondary labour markets. The former includes full-time professional jobs that require a lot of skills and experience, including lawyers and doctors. They argue that white males are the most likely to fit into this group. The latter sector is quite the antonym to the former. This group includes jobs that don’t require a high level of skills and experiences, for instance shop keepers and cleaners. This is the job market that is most associated with students, and it also has an unfair proportion of women and ethnic minorities. There is often less social mobility, so therefore it’s harder to find any promotions that offer a higher pay and status.  Barron and Norris argue that despite men being employed in both sectors, the majority find work in the primary sector. There are many theories that attempt to explain this. Firstly, women are far more likely to work more for less money. They are also less likely to be committed to their jobs for familial and domestic circumstances, such as prioritising housework and caring for children. Women also tend to be less organised with their work. Therefore, Barron and Norris argue that status inequality is to blame.

Another Weberian approach is by Rex and Thompson, who argue that ethnic minorities often deal with more class and status inequality, and this is worsened by racism. In London alone, black people are 28 times more likely than white people to be ‘stopped and searched’ by police. The police are more likely to target ethnic minorities because of “canteen culture”, which is a term that was created by Reiner to refer to beliefs and prejudices within the police force). Alas, this leads to a wider spread of social exclusion and frustration amongst ethnic minorities. Rex and Thompson believe that subcultures, with an unfair proportion of black people, form as a result of social prejudice and injustice.

Weberian theorists believe that it is possible to associate gender inequality and status inequality. In reference to the gender pay gap, women generally earn 40% less than their male counterparts. This is most probably because there is a higher proportion of women working in the secondary labour market. Additionally, women are more likely to work in the public sector, such as carers and teachers, where the wages are considerably less than the private sector. Women also have a different status in the work environment. What ‘Boundless’ say is that women are far more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Therefore, we see that social inequality is not necessarily the root of all inequality, though undeniably is does have a role.

Many Feminists tend to disagree to an extent with Marxism. Radical Feminists mainly believe that society is a patriarchy that is split between men and women. They also believe that domestic abuse is a tool by the male population to oppress and control women, and that it reflects their societal power. Around 1.4 million women experience domestic abuse yearly (‘The Guardian’) – though the counterargument of that would be that more than 40% of domestic abuse victims are male (also ‘The Guardian’). Furthermore, domestic workloads tend to vary according to gender. Unemployed women spend on average 57 hours on domestic chores (Walker and Woods), and very recent research has uncovered that employed women also spend roughly the same amount as unemployed women spend. The majority of that time is spent looking after children. Ann Oakley, a renowned feminist, says ‘In only a small number of marriages is the husband notably domesticated… home and children are the woman’s primary responsibility.’ Therefore domestic work is very often considered a female role, rather than a male one.

Thus, as the Weberian concepts that have been addressed, vertical and horizontal discrimination exists, according to Feminists.

Vertical discrimination: the differences in status and income between men and women.

Horizontal discrimination: channelling people to take up jobs on the basis of their gender. An example of this is where a man would be encouraged to find a competitive career, yet often allows a higher income and higher opportunities of social mobility.

Therefore Feminists disagree with Marxist beliefs about social inequality and its root in society, especially as a catalyst for many other forms of discrimination.

Postmodernists also disagree with Marxists about discrimination. Waters, a popular Postmodernist, believes that the social classes are diminishing as a legitimate symbol of personality. Instead, how we, as individuals, spend our time and money and our ideas about society is central to our identities. No one is forced into a particular lifestyle (with exceptions) any longer because of the recent rise in living standards. The rise in the popularity of leisurely sports, like baseball, in the 1920’s US would be a classic example of this. And the idea that our culture has become freer as a result of raised living standards is undoubtedly plausible, yet it contrasts greatly to fundamental Marxism, Weberianism, Feminism, and to a lesser extent, Functionalists.

The Functionalist approach to discrimination is different to that of Postmodern and Marxist concepts as they argue that social stratification exists on purpose as it is beneficial to society, which is meritocratic. Social stratification is a ranking system that is based on moral judgments. This is grounded on: respect, supremacy, social distinctions, approval and disproval. The modern social strata reflects the normative consensus, and what society considers to be valuable. And therefore, as Davis and Moore suggest, the top jobs should, and are, given to the most intelligent and skilled workers because they are more of a use to society.

On a whole, many theories exist that attempt to explain social inequality and injustice. We have, on one hand, Marxist concepts who argue that social inequality and the struggle between the rich and the poor is the greatest example of discrimination to be seen, and other approaches see it as an issue that is a lot more intricate than the Marxists believe it to be. And the Functionalists see it not as a huge issue at all.

Gwerthusiad ar y safbwynt bod pob anghydraddoldeb yn anghydraddoldeb dosbarth

Mae nifer o anghydraddoldebau yn bodoli yn y gymdeithas. Mae’r Marcswyr yn cefnogi’r syniad bod gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb yw anghydraddoldeb dosbarth. Mae hyn yn seiliedig ar y theori gwrthdaro, a chredon nhw fod y ‘Bourgeoisie’ (sef y dosbarth rheoli) yn defnyddio’r system gyfalafol i ecsploetio’r ‘Proletariat’ (y dosbarth gweithiol). Mae’r dosbarth rheoli yn mwynhau eu safle economaidd pwerus a’r rheolaeth sydd ganddynt dros y gweithwyr, felly maent yn eu gormesu nhw er mwyn sicrhau bod y sefyllfa yn parhau. Mae ganddynt ddylanwad ar ddiwylliant ac ar fywyd pob dydd oherwydd mae rheolaeth y dosbarth llywodraethol ar yr isadeiledd yw sail ei rheolaeth ar yr aradeiledd, megis y cyfryngau, ysgolion a gwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Yr aradeiledd sy’n gyfrifol dros atgyfnerthu’r anghydraddoldebau trwy gymdeithasoli cynradd ac eilradd, yn ôl y Marcswyr.

Nid yw’r dosbarth gweithiol yn ymateb i hyn oherwydd maent yn rhan o “ymwybyddiaeth ffug”. Hynny yw, maent yn ymwybodol o’r sefyllfa wirioneddol wrth feddwl bod y gymdeithas yn feritocrataidd. Dywedodd Althusser bod ysgolion yw “y peiriannau mawr sy’n creu mythau”, ac un o rheiny yw bod y gymdeithas yn feritocrataidd. Yr “offer ideolegol y wladwriaeth”, felly’r aradeiledd sy’n rheoli syniadau, er enghraifft y cyfryngau, yw’r peth sy’n creu’r gred hon.

Un maes lle mae yna dystiolaeth o anghydraddoldeb ar sail dosbarth yw ym maes addysg. Yn ôl yr Adran Addysg a Sgiliau, mae yna gysylltiad rhwng dosbarth cymdeithasol a chyrhaeddiad addysgol. Yn 2005, er enghraifft, llwyddodd 76% o blant o gefndiroedd proffesiynol uwch i gael 5 neu ragor TGAU A* i C, o’i gymharu â dim ond 32% o gefndiroedd gweithwyr cyffredin. Er gwaethaf y ffaith bod cyraeddiadau pob plentyn wedi gwella mae’r bwlch yn parhau i dyfu ac mae’r anghydraddoldebau dosbarth cymdeithasol hyn o ran cyrhaeddiad addysgol yn fwy amlwg nag erioed. Mae’r ystadegau hyn yn atgyfnerthu’r cysylltiad clir rhwng cyfalaf diwylliannol a chyrhaeddiad academaidd.

Yn ôl Bowles a Gintis, mae plant, yn bennaf y rhai o gefndiroedd tlawd, yn dysgu sut i ufuddhau i’r system annheg ac i dderbyn y ffaith eu bod yn ddi-rym. Honnir y mae ysgolion yn atgyfnerthu anghydraddoldeb trwy annog plant i aros yn eu dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol, megis annog plant dosbarth gweithiol i gael swydd gyffredin, ac yn yr un modd, annog plant o ddosbarth canol i gael swydd broffesiynol, megis ym musnes. Astudiodd Paul Willis yn ei astudiaeth “Lads ac Ear’oles” agweddau a chyfleoedd gwahanol ymysg dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol. Edrychodd Willis ar fechgyn ysgol uwchradd yn y 70au, gan gymryd sylw’n benodol ar fechgyn o ddosbarth gweithiol. Daeth i’r casgliad mae plant o gefndiroedd llai cyfoethog yn fwy tueddol o gael agweddau gwael am addysg ac yn fwy tebygol o chwarae cwmpas yn yr ystafell dosbarth. Yn y pendraw, bydd ganddynt llai o lwyddiannau addysgol ac yn fwy tueddol o dderbyn swyddi o statws isel. Maes arall lle mae tystiolaeth o anghydraddoldeb ar sail dosbarth yw ym maes iechyd. Yn ôl y ‘World Health Organisation’, mae dynion yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf difreintiedig yn dueddol o fyw tua naw blwyddyn yn llai na dynion yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf gyfoethog. Yn yr un modd, mae gan fenywod yn yr ardaloedd tlotaf disgwyliad oes o tua 7 mlynedd yn llai na menywod yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf cyfoethog.

Mae’r dosbarth gweithiol yn fwy tebygol o gael ymborth gwael, a gall hyn arwain at ordewdra, neu unrhyw anhwylderau bwyta eraill. Mewn rhai sefyllfaoedd, gall hyn arwain at fwlio yn yr ysgol, ac felly byddent yn cymryd llai o sylw tuag at eu pynciau academaidd. Problemau iechyd hefyd yn gallu gwaethygu iselder, ac mae hyn yn arwain at yr un casgliadau. Mae Wilkinson yn cefnogi’r cysylltiad hyn trwy honni bod perthynas sy’n gallu cael ei mesur rhwng iechyd gwael ac incwm. Yn ôl yr Arolwg Cartrefi Cyffredinol 1999, mae 32% o aelodau’r cartrefi heb waith yn dweud bod afiechydon cronig arnyn nhw, gan gymharu â 12.5% o’r rhai mewn cartrefi â gwaith. Mae pobl dosbarth gweithiol efallai’n methu fforddio presgripsiynau i sicrhau iechyd da. Y rwyf yn ystyried y ffaith bod hon yn berthnasol i Loegr yn unig. Mae gan Gymru, Iwerddon ac yr Alban cyfreithiau gwahanol. Mae rhai o’r farn mai iechyd preifat yn cynnig triniaeth well, ac os yr ydym yn ystyried hyn, mae hyn yn rhoi pobl dosbarth gweithiol anfantais oherwydd nid oes ganddynt yr un mynediad at iechyd fel y dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol mwy cyfoethog.

Yn ôl adroddiad gan ‘King’s Fund ThinkTank’, mae’r rhai sydd heb/llai o gymwysterau (sy’n fwy tueddol o ddod o’r dosbarth gweithiol) yn fwy tebygol o ysmygu, yfed a chael problemau iechyd. Mae modd dadlau bod hyn oherwydd mae gan y dosbarth gweithiol llai o arian i fedru fforddio prynu bwydydd iachus, ac yn lle yn gorfod prynu bwydydd sy’n llawn siwgr. Yn ogystal mae ganddynt llai o fynediad at wybodaeth a dealltwriaeth am fwydydd afiachus, felly mae diffyg ymwybyddiaeth yn gallu chwarae rhan enfawr ynddo fe.

Gall anghydraddoldebau dosbarth esbonio diffyg cyrhaeddiad nifer o leiafrifoedd ethnig o fewn y system addysg a’r gymdeithas ehangach. Mae canran anghyfartal o garcharwyr o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig ac mae nifer ohonynt hefyd yn dioddef o amddifadedd materol a diwylliannol. Mae tua 49% o’r holl garcharwyr gydag ethnigrwydd croenddu (yn ôl ‘Prison Reform Trust’), ac mae 57% o deuluoedd Affro-Caribi yn un rhiant, gan gymharu gyda 23% o bobl wen. Yn gyffredinol, mae plant o grwpiau lleiafrifol ethnig yn dueddol o wneud yn waeth yn yr ysgol, ac mae nifer fawr ohonynt yn derbyn prydau ysgol am ddim (PYADd). Mae 38% o blant Pacistani yn derbyn PYADd, a 58% o blant Bangladeshi, 26% o fyfyrwyr Affro-Caribi, a 41% o ddisgyblion Affricanaidd ddu. Yn y byd gwaith, gwelir mai y pobl Affro-Carribi sy’n profi’r cyn lleied o symudiad cymdeithasol ac sydd fel arfer yn ddi-waith. Gall hyn esbonio’r lefelau trosedd (yn ôl y theori straen Merton, lle mae pobl yn troseddu oherwydd rhwystredigaeth statws), a hefyd maent yn cael eu gorfodi i droi at drosedd er mwyn goroesi. Felly, mae lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn gwneud yn waeth yn yr ysgol oherwydd eu bod yn fwy tebygol o ddod o’r dosbarth gweithiol. Hefyd maent yn fwy tebygol o droi at drosedd am yr un rhesymau.

Mae’r Ffeministiaid Marcsaidd, gall anghydraddoldeb dosbarth hefyd bod yn gysylltiedig ag anghydraddoldebau rhywedd. Credon nhw fod menywod yn israddol o fewn y system gyfalafol, ac yn ôl  Margaret Benston, rôl menywod o fewn y system gyfalafol yw gwneud gwaith llafur domestig am ddim a magu’r gweithwyr y dyfodol. I fynd ymhellach, mae nifer yn credu bod rôl menywod yn y byd gwaith yw bod y “gweithwyr llafur wrth gefn”. Roedd yr Ail Ryfel Byd (rhwng 1939-1945) yn dystiolaeth dda o hyn oherwydd cymerodd menywod swyddi’r dynion tra eu bod nhw’n brwydro yn y rhyfel. Ond er hyn, gellir dadlau bod y gymdeithas wedi datblygu a moderneiddio ers y pryd hynny, ac felly mae’n anodd iawn i gymharu’r ddwy sefyllfa. Yn ogystal, yn ôl Ffeministiaid Marcsaidd, mae menywod yn wynebu’r “nenfwd gwydr”, sydd yn eu hatal rhag cyrraedd y swyddi top, ac mewn cyfnodau economaidd gwael, mae’n haws cael gwared ar fenywod na ddynion. Felly mae modd gweld y cysylltiad clir rhwng anghydraddoldeb rhywedd ac anghydraddoldeb dosbarth.

Mae syniadau Weberaidd (sef credoau sy’n seiliedig ar ymchwil Max Weber) yn cytuno i raddau gyda syniadau Marcsaidd, ond yn anghytuno yn gyffredinol. Credon nhw fod pedwar dosbarth cymdeithasol: ‘y Breintiedig’ – y rhai ar dop y gymdeithas, ‘y Peti Bourgeoisie’ – y rheolwyr a gweithwyr hunangyflogedig, ‘y gweithwyr Coler Wen’ – y dosbarth canol is ac  ‘y gweithwyr Llaw” – y dosbarth gweithiol. Rhoddon nhw ystyriaeth ar ddosbarth cymdeithasol, ond hefyd maent yn pwysleisio statws a phlaid hefyd. I Weber, mae pob ffactor yn ar wahân, ac i Marx, gyfystyr yw dosbarth cymdeithasol, statws a phlaid. Mae statws yn cyfeirio at safle a pharch sydd gan unigolyn yn y gymdeithas, ac mae plaid yn golygu aelodaeth yr unigolyn at y gymdeithas ffurfiol ac anffurfiol.

Mae syniadau Weberaidd yn galluogi ni i ddeall mwy am yr anghydraddoldebau ethnig a rhywedd sydd o fewn y gymdeithas a bod y rhain yn bodoli am resymau nad sy’n gysylltiedig ag anghydraddoldebau dosbarth yn unig, ond yn lle maent yn enghreifftiau o anghydraddoldebau statws.

Mae damcaniaethau Weberaidd yn esbonio bod pŵer a statws yn nwylo’r grŵp ethnig mwyaf, ac felly’, mae’n anodd i bobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig i gystadlu. Dyma’r rheswm pam mae’r mwyafrif o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn cael eu cysylltu â chyflog isel, amodau byw isel ac ardaloedd difreintiedig. Mae 70% o blant ag ethnigrwydd Bangladeshi yn dlawd yn swyddogol (‘Poverty.org’), 60% i bobl o Bacistan, 50% i Affricanwyr Du, 30% o bobl o India ac Affro-Caribi a 20% o bobl wen. Hyd yn oed pan mae pobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn gwneud yr un swyddi â phobl wen, nid ydynt yn derbyn yr un statws â hwy. Mae hyn oherwydd eu bod yn wynebu rhagfarn a gwahaniaethu gan weithwyr gwyn am eu bod yn gweld lleiafrifoedd ethnig fel bygythiad i’w swyddi. Yn sgil hyn, mae lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn dioddef o anghydraddoldeb statws yn ogystal ag anghydraddoldeb dosbarth.

Mae’r ‘theori Farchnad Llafur Deuol’  (syniad Weberaidd gan Barron a Norris) yn rhannu i ddwy sect wahanol: y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd ac Eilradd. Y naill yn cynnwys swyddi sefydlog a broffesiynol, megis cyfreithwyr a doctoriaid. Mae angen i chi cael y sgiliau a phrofion cywir er mwyn derbyn y swyddi yma a gwelir mai mwyafrif o weithwyr y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd yw dynion wen. Y llall, ar y llaw arall, yn wrthwyneb i Gynradd. Mae’n cynnwys swyddi lle nad oes angen sgiliau penodol ac mae’r gwaith yn fwy galwedigaethol. Esiamplau o hyn yw gweithwyr siop neu weithwyr y ffatri. Nid oes llawer o symudoledd cymdeithasol o fewn y swyddi yma ac mae canran anghyfartal o weithwyr yn naill ai benywaidd, neu’n dod o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig. Yn ôl Barron a Norris, er bod dynion yn cael eu cyflogi yn y ddau sector, mae mwyafrif ohonynt yn y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd, ac mae menywod yn y sector arall. Mae llawer o esboniadau am hyn sy’n cefnogi ei gilydd: mae menywod yn fwy tebygol o weithio’n fwy am lai o arian; menywod yn llai tebygol o ymrwymo eu hunain i swyddi, oherwydd er enghraifft maent yn magu plant neu wedi priodi; maent yn fwy tebygol o fod yn llai trefnus. Felly, dadleuir gan Barron a Norris bod anghydraddoldeb statws sydd ar fai.

Dynesiad arall Weberaidd yw Rex a Thompson, pwy sy’n dweud bod lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn dioddef o anghydraddoldebau dosbarth a statws a bod hyn yn arwain at dlodi sy’n cael ei gwaethygu gan hiliaeth. Yn Llundain yn unig, mae person croenddu yn 28 waith yn fwy tebygol o gael ei ‘stopio ac archwilio’ gan yr heddlu na phobl wen. Yn ogystal, mae’r heddlu yn targedu pobl du oherwydd “canteen culture” (term a chrëir gan Reiner i gyfeirio at gredoau a rhagfarnau hiliol a rhywiaethol yn bodoli yn y system heddlu). Mae hyn yn arwain at ymlediad pellach o ynysiaeth a rhwystredigaeth ymysg pobl du. Credon nhw fod yr is-ddosbarth du yn datblygu gan bobl sy’n dioddef ynysiaeth a rhwystredigaeth o fewn y gymdeithas.

Yn ôl credoau Weberaidd, mae modd cysylltu anghydraddoldebau gender ac anghydraddoldebau statws. O ran gwahaniaethau o ran tâl, ar gyfartaledd mae menywod yn ennill 40% llai na dynion. Gall hyn fod oherwydd mae menywod yn dueddol o weithio yn y Farchnad Llafur Eilradd. Yn ogystal mae menywod yn tueddu gweithio yn y sector cyhoeddus, megis fel athrawon, lle mae’r tâl yn sylweddol yn is na thâl yn y sector preifat, er enghraifft ym myd busnes. Yn ogystal mae gan fenywod statws gwahanol o fewn y byd gwaith. Yn ôl ‘Boundless’, mae menywod yn llawer mwy tebygol o brofi aflonyddiad rhywiol o fewn y gweithle. Trwy hyn, gwelwn nad gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb yw anghydraddoldeb dosbarth yn ôl credoau Weberaidd, ond mae’n chwarae rhan ynddo fe.

Mae Ffeministiaid yn dueddol o anghytuno gyda syniadau Marcsaidd. Cred y Ffeministwyr Radical yw bod y gymdeithas yn batriarchaidd ac yn cael ei rhannu i ddau: rhwng dynion a menywod. Credon nhw bod trais domestig yn adlewyrchu pŵer dynion. Mae tua 1.4 miliwn o fenywod yn flynyddol yn dioddef o drais domestig (‘y Guardian’). Yn ogystal mae rhaniad gwaith llafur domestig yn hollol ddibynnol ar eich rhywedd. Mae menywod di-swydd yn dueddol o dreulio tua 57 awr ar dasgau domestig (Walker a Woods), ac mae astudiaethau mwy cyfoes wedi darganfod bod menywod sydd gan swyddi llawn amser yn gwneud tua’r unfaint hefyd. Mae’r mwyafrif o’r amser hynny yn cael eu treulio ar edrych ar ôl blant. Yn ôl Ann Oakley, ‘In only a small number of marriages is the husband notably domesticated… home and children are the woman’s primary responsibility.’ Felly ystyrir gwaith domestig ac edrych ar ôl plant fel rôl fenywaidd yn lle gwrywaidd. Felly, fel y mae cysyniadau Weberaidd yn ymdrin â, mae gwahaniaethu fertigol a llorweddol yn bodoli, yn ôl barn Ffeministaidd. Mae’r cyntaf yn cyfeirio at statws a thâl gwahanol rhwng dynion a menywod, ac mae’r llall yn golygu swyddi gwahanol sy’n cael eu sianeli yn ôl rhywedd, megis mae dynion yn cael eu hannog i weithio tuag at swyddi sy’n fwy cystadleuol a ble mae mwy o symudoledd cymdeithasol. Felly bydd Ffeministwyr yn anghytuno gyda syniadau Marcsaidd ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldebau dosbarth fel gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb.

Mae’r Ôl-fodernwyr hefyd yn anghytuno gyda Marcswyr ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldebau. Mae Waters yn credu bod dosbarthiadau yn dirywio fel arwydd o hunaniaeth. Yn lle, mae sut yr ydym yn treulio ein hamser, arian ac ein credoau yn ganolig i ein hunaniaethau. Nid oes neb yn cael eu gorfodi bellach oherwydd y cynnydd mewn safonau byw. Mae gan bobl mwy o arian a mwy o amser rhydd er mwyn ymlacio. Mae’r cynnydd mewn gweithgareddau hamddenol yn dystiolaeth o hyn, lle ddatblygwyd y rheiny, megis pêl fas yn yr Unol Daliaethau America yn ystod y 20au. Felly mae pobl yn wynebu mwy o ddewis ynglŷn â’u ffordd o fyw yn hytrach na chael eu gorfodi i mewn i ddiwylliant penodol. Felly mae gan Farcswyr ac Ôl-fodernwyr credoau gwahanol am anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol.

Mae credoau Swyddogaethol ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldeb yn wahanol o i Ôl-fodernwyr a Marcswyr gan eu bod yn dadlau bod haenau cymdeithasol yn bodoli ar bwrpas er mwyn bod yn fuddiol i gymdeithas sydd yn feritocrataidd. Mae haenau cymdeithasol yn system rancio sy’n seiliedig ar werthusiad moesol. Mae hyn yn ei sylfaenu ar: parch; fawreddogrwydd; anrhydedd cymdeithasol; cymeradwyaeth ac anghymeradwyaeth. Mae haenau cymdeithasegol modern yn gwrthrychu consensws normadol am beth mae’r gymdeithas yn gweld yn werthfawr, ac felly, yn ôl Davis a Moore, caiff pobl fwyaf galluog a doniog eu gosod yn y swyddi mwyaf pwysig oherwydd maent yn fwy o fudd i’r gymdeithas.

Ar y cyfan, mae llawer iawn o ddamcaniaethau am anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol. Ar un llaw, mae gennych chi gysyniadau Marcsaidd, sydd o’r farn mae dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol yw’r gweithredwyr o’r holl anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol, lle mae cysyniadau Weberaidd, Ffeministaidd, Swyddogaethol ac Ôl-fodernaidd yn gwrthddweud y Marcswyr.

A brief guide to ‘Arhats’ in Theravada Buddhism

“The true ideal of Theravada Buddhism is the Arhat, the being who… realised Nirvana”

– Merv Fowler.

To put it simply: an arhat is an enlightened being who has discharged the burden of karma. Peter Harvey explains that an arhat is someone who has distinguished the three poisons, which are “attachment, hatred, delusion”.

In the period before the existence of Buddhism, the term ‘arhat’ was reserved to describe certain Hindu gods, royals and priests. The Buddha himself, Siddartha Gautama, used this term to describe something completely different.

The meaning of this term is “the worthy one” who deserves respect. An arhat is someone who is “fully endowed with all factors of the path” (P. Harvey), and thus has reached the end of the Noble Eightfold Path and has come to fully comprehend the true nature of existence.

Gautama is widely considered to be the most well-known arhat.

Since they have achieved inner peace, they are no longer mentally or actively selfish, and since they have broken free from the circle of Samsara, they are completely exempt from rebirth. Yet despite them being no longer able to experience pain and suffering, this by no means says that they are apathetic and devoid of emotion. In contrast, they are full of compassion and mercy.

Harvey states that an arhat is a being who has perfected these seven traits:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Study of the Dharma (S)/Dhamma (P)
  3. Vigour
  4. Joyfulness
  5. Concentration
  6. Evenness of the mind

Whereas Skilton, on the other hand, says that the definition of an arhat is someone who has broken free of the 10 Fetters, which are:

  1. The belief in the self
  2. Reservations
  3. Engagements to rituals
  4. Sexual desire
  5. Bad wills
  6. Desire to live in the world
  7. Desire to live in the formless world
  8. Conceit
  9. Restlessness
  10. Ignorance

As the individual progresses through these steps, it gradually becomes harder to regress.

Who gets to be an arhat and how long the progress is to become fully enlightened:

Only monks can achieve the arhat status because of their devotion to the process. However, the laity can work towards being reborn as a monk by leading a good and ethical life through focusing on the Dhamma. Even for monks, it takes many lifetimes to achieve the perfect state of enlightenment.

Shakespeare’s presentation of parent/child conflict in Hamlet, with reference to The Revenger’s Tragedy.

Conflict is defined as a state of mind in which a person experiences a clash of opposing ideas, feelings and needs, and it is an explicit theme in the play’s parent/child relationships in Hamlet and Middleton’s Revenger’s Tragedy. Many dynamics of it are presented from the two families, thus, it is interesting to draw out contrasts and comparisons between them.

Although some abnormalities may be seen in Polonius’s relationship with Laertes and Ophelia through the eyes of modern audience and critics, for instance, Polonius’s intrusive and controlling nature, this family in the play would have been considered to be a normal, typical upper-class family in the Elizabethan and Jacobean era, especially in comparison with Prince Hamlet’s unstable relationship with his parents. Many critics assume that in Act 1 Scene 3 when Laertes and then later Polonius advises Ophelia to not put too much trust in Hamlet, Where Laertes’s advice is more affectionate, Polonius’s is more of an interrogation and his character hands out more orders than advice.  He does not want Ophelia to jeopardise their high-ranking position within the Court by her being a vulnerable “woodcock” to Hamlet’s supposedly insincere “vows”. The theme of conflict is subdued within the two generations because her silence is generally considered to be respectful and dutiful, “I shall obey, my lord”. However, her silence could be interpreted as rebellious. This concept is reinforced with her encounter with her brother Laertes – “Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, whiles like a puffed and reckless libertine, essentially she is telling him to practice what he preaches and to not be a hypocrite. This strongly implies that while she may be listening to his advice, she is being insincere with her replies.  On the other hand, this theory is not strengthened by Ophelia’s subsequent actions that result in her rejecting Hamlet and his advances.

Modern audiences tend to be much more critical of male dominance on Hamlet, yet Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences would be sympathetic to Polonius as Ophelia would be considered his possession. This sense of male ownership is reiterated when he says, “I’ll loose my daughter”, which is referencing loosing a cow for mating with a bull. This parallels with Hamlet’s “fishmonger” comment that was directed towards Polonius, yet the tone in which they are both said are entirely different, with the latter being presumably an insult. Polonius comes across as the stronger character in Act 1 Scene 3 compared to Ophelia and Laertes, which somewhat mirrors the Old King in Act 1 Scene 5. Hamlet’s relationship with his father, the Old King, is the source of his own inner conflict. He is unable to commit revenge even for his father’s sake. Old Hamlet is dominant in the meeting with Hamlet. This revenge is going against divine laws. The protestant audience would be aware of the Catholic themes, in context with this scene, the Ghost was in Purgatory, which was a concept that was widely rejected by Protestant Reformers of the 16th century. Essentially, the Old King Hamlet and Polonius are alike in many ways because they both have authority over their kin and their children are obedient and listen to him. However, with Hamlet, the Old King’s authority is challenged because Hamlet delays taking revenge for many possible reasons. One case would be that he is ultimately a coward, and thus, cannot take revenge because he does not have his father’s trait of courageousness. Another interpretation of this would be that he is merely being cautious. It is possible that the ghost is a devil, which was discussed in the play. In this case, this would change the way we see Hamlet. He would be a hero who took matters into his own hands to get justice, and that he was not foolish enough to immediately play into the hands of the Devil. Many other critics would interpret Hamlet’s actions as part of his plot to send Claudius to eternal damnation. We see this particularly in Act 3 Scene 3, he did not kill Claudius because he was praying. According to Catholic beliefs, if you confess your sins to God, you would go to heaven, and as Hamlet wanted Claudius to go to hell, he decided to wait longer in order for that to happen.

The somewhat turbulent relationship Hamlet has with his other parent, Gertrude, is fuelled by what many critics believe to be Gertrude’s “o’er hasty marriage” to Claudius. Audiences in Elizabethan and Jacobean society would have viewed this marriage as incestuous, so it would have been at the forefront of Shakespeare’s mind whilst presenting this theme. She’s perceived as false to him and uses his mother’s sexuality to explain the capricious women are, “a beast, that wants discourse of reason, / would have mourn’d longer”. This means that whereas she was once loyal to the Old King, this quickly changed following his death. Though another interpretation suggests that the source of their friction would be because of He compares her to “Niobe”. This simile refers to her sexuality, which suggests that Hamlet harboured incestuous feelings for his mother and that the real reason for his anger towards her is because her marriage to Claudius meant that those feelings were not reciprocated. Essentially, Hamlet sees her as an example of the weakness of women and constantly hurt in his reflections of how quickly she remarried. It is possible that Hamlet’s feeling of anger and disgust towards his mother is intensified by how lovingly his father treated her, “that he might not beteem the winds of heaven / visit her face too roughly”. This creates the idea that the Old King was very loving and protective towards the Queen, and yet she embraced the “hasty marriage” as if it meant nothing to her. The disgust in his words is also present in the sound they make. The hissing sibilants convey Hamlet’s revulsion to the idea of Gertrude and Claudius together.

If we consider Freud’s Oedipus complex, which means, in this case, the son being in love with the mother, it could explain Hamlet’s true feelings and intentions that involve his father, the Old King. If, for the sake of argument, Hamlet was romantically interested in his mother, this could suggest that jealousy and envy were the motives for wanting to kill Claudius, and not necessarily to seek vengeance for the murder of his father. After all, the King is doing what Hamlet always wanted to do, according to this theory: kill the king, marry Gertrude and claim the throne for himself. This adds a whole new dynamic to their relationship, and in this sense, the source of Hamlet and the Old King’s potential conflict is the female, which is Gertrude. Hamlet’s anger towards Gertrude is later amplified to include all women, “frailty, thy name is woman”. This suggests that he believes that all women are weak-willed and are easily morally corrupted. However, Gertrude’s real reason for marrying Claudius after the Old King Hamlet had been “but two months dead” remains ambiguous. Considering the patriarchal system that would have been in place during the time in which this play was set, which was purposely mirrored with Elizabethan society, the only way a woman could gain status, power and security was through men. So essentially it could be that Gertrude was only thinking ahead to secure her role in the Court. Then again, the Old King Hamlet’s level of anger towards Gertrude casts doubt on this theory. He calls Gertrude an “incestuous, that adulterate beast”, whose “seeming-virtuous”, yet had “shameful lust” that accepted “traitorous gifts”. Many critics would consider this line to be definite proof that Gertrude had been Claudius’s lover before her husband had died, and therefore would have had an inevitable part to play in the murder of the Old King Hamlet, but then again, the rest of the play makes no mention of this adultery, and Gertrude certainly does not at all appear to be guilty. What could have possibly been meant with this phrase is that Gertrude has been “contaminated” and “corrupted” by her marriage to Claudius. In this case, again, we see Hamlet’s belief that Gertrude married too quickly and was considered by both the Old King and Hamlet to be false in her actions. This was possibly triggered further for Hamlet by Ophelia’s abandonment of him by obedience to her father and brother.

Hamlet accuses Ophelia (and subsequently expands to include all women in general) of being a “breeder of sinners” and orders Ophelia to a “nunnery”. The fact that he repeats this phrase increases his disgust towards her actions and loyalties. A “nunnery” could either be taken literally or could mean a brothel, which suggests that Ophelia is a whore who manipulated Hamlet and is controlled by another man: Polonius. This idea is reinforced when Hamlet calls Polonius a “fishmonger”, which is a deprecating term for a pimp, by how he controls Ophelia. This was Elizabethan slang for “brothel keeper”, and thus would have been considered a major insult by the original audience. However, many critics would interpret the famous “get thee to a nunnery” line to mean that she needs to get to a nunnery to avoid corruption, like his mother, Gertrude. It is hard to say exactly if he is saying this as a result of his antic-disposition, or whether he is in genuine disgust. Equivocal actions happen often in the play, which adds to the theme of deceit and deception. It is hard to definitively say what characters truly mean and what they do not. Misogynistic themes are also prevalent through Vindice’s opinion of his mother and sister, Gratiana and Castiza, “women are apt…To take false money…their sex is easy in belief”. He believes, like Hamlet, that all women are easily corruptible and gullible. Elizabethan audience would have been accepting of this, considering the fact that norms were different. Though in contrast with Hamlet, The Revenger’s Tragedy deals with the more superficial elements of a woman’s apparent deception. Vindice mentions women’s “Bought complexion”, meaning faces that are made up with makeup, to add an element of deceit and secrecy. Many would view this as hypocritical because of Piato: Vindice’s disguise. This highlights the lack of trust that Vindice as in his mother, yet it is unknown of these are a catalyst of personal issues that he has with her or with women in general. However, to say that Hamlet does not at all look at women’s physical appearance would be false because in Act 3 Scene 1, Hamlet directs “That if you could be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty” towards Ophelia. This means that beauty corrupts honesty. Then again, this makes no suggestions towards makeup and man-made deception, so in this perspective, it differs somewhat to the Revenger’s Tragedy. There are similar themes of using disguises as means of deception in Hamlet when he uses his “antic disposition” to prove Claudius and Gertrude’s guilt. He “feigns madness”, and is able to tell the difference “from a hawk to a handsaw”.

To an extent, Hamlet does use external methods of feigning madness, for instance, in Lyndsey Turner’s 2015 remake of the play, Hamlet dresses up as a toy soldier, where he then says his “to be or not to be” speech. This suggests that he is ready for battle, yet then again, toy soldiers are also are used by children when they’re playing games and could signify that Hamlet is playing a game of his own and he himself is a piece. However, Shakespeare is much more concerned with the internal signs of madness, and he demonstrates this mainly through Hamlet’s treatment of Polonius and Ophelia. Polonius is a loyal advisor to the King and is the main advocate for Hamlet’s genuine “madness”, which was caused by Ophelia’s rejection of him, in his judgment. It is relatively easy for Hamlet to control and influence Polonius because of his false politeness, “(Hamlet) Methinks it is like a weasel”, “(Polonius) It is backed like a weasel”, “(Hamlet) Or, like a whale?”, “(Polonius)  very like a whale”. What Hamlet is doing is proving a point to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by showing how easy it is for him to control the actions of others, and thus stating that he is aware that they are both “playing upon (him) like a pipe” for Claudius’s sake. Hamlet uses Ophelia to get to Polonius and, to begin with, to test her loyalties. He used Ophelia because of her loyalties towards her father Polonius, who in turn used Ophelia as a tool to observe Hamlet’s actions in order to report back to Claudius. Yet we do not know to what extent this may be true because the layers of secrecy and deception completely blur the lines between what we know to be true and what is false. Hamlet is ultimately using his “antic disposition” in order to extract the truth from Claudius on whether he is guilty of the death of the Old King Hamlet.

The idea of using deceit and secrecy as a weapon is a common theme in the play. Gertrude and Claudius use Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet for the same reasons they used Polonius: in order to find the cause of “Hamlet’s transformation” and what “hath put him / so much from th’understanding of himself”. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern subsequently fail to manipulate him, and Hamlet makes them very aware of this through his musical metaphor of the “recorder”. This is where we see Hamlet in control of the argument, “’Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you fret me, you cannot play upon me”. He then proceeds to prove a point to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that influencing others is easy by using Polonius to make him say what he wants him to say “(Hamlet) that’s almost in shape of a camel”, and “(Polonius) like a camel indeed”. This shows his power of how to manipulate people. Furthermore to solidify the strength of this, Hamlet used the play to “catch the conscience of the King” and the Queen and the extent of their guilt in the murder of the Old King. During “the Mousetrap” play that was taking place before the Royal Court, “Here’s metal more attractive”, here he strongly implies that she, along with women in general, are “metal” that attract men, whether it is intended or not. This fits in with Elizabethan love genre, and Hamlet uses it as an excuse to get away in order to watch their reactions to the play.

It is highly believable that Gertrude’s betrayal takes precedence over Claudius’s murder. Hamlet is much more concerned with his mother in Act 3 Scene 4, “to live in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, stew’d in corruption…honeying and making love over the nasty sty”. Hamlet describes their marriage as corrupt and dirty. Thus, we can say that this scene presents Hamlet and Gertrude’s conflict as the overriding source of conflict in the play. Deep misunderstanding is also noticeable between the two, which is underlined when only Hamlet can see the ghost, and that leads Gertrude to assume his madness, “alas, he is mad”. Regardless of this, Gertrude vows to let Claudius tempt her “again to bed”. The fact that it is seemingly easy to influence Gertrude thoughts shows her submission to men, which also explains why Gertrude later betrays Hamlet and confides in Claudius about what she’s learnt about him. She draws on the simile, “(Hamlet is) mad as the sea and wind when both contend”. The confrontation in this scene is, unsurprisingly, heavily dominated by Hamlet, and his anger with her fuels this immensely. This parallels with Laertes and Polonius’s treatment of Ophelia in Act 1 Scene 3 when they are instructing Ophelia to cut her contact with Hamlet in order to protect her and her family title. Gertrude and Ophelia are both seen as men’s weak-willed possessions. However, another interpretation of this shows that Gertrude has a powerful instinct for self-preservation, which leads her to rely too deeply on men, particularly on Hamlet and Claudius. This is why she appears to be a deceitful character. Her reason for showing insincerity towards Hamlet could have been because she was intimidated by him, and her loyalties lied in herself, and not her son. How Gertrude feels about her son, and likewise, remains debatable amongst critics. Yet it is possible to draw conflicting comparisons from other parent/child relationships in Hamlet in order to gain insight into what would be considered ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ within their relationships.

The Not-Quite-Underclass of ‘Sheila’

Brendan Caldwell

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I once went to a pub in Battersea with my girlfriend of the time, who had worked behind the bar. She introduced me to her friends who were working that night and to some of the regulars.

I met a girl who had had a kid in her teens and who later rejected an offer to study at Oxford because they were snooty to her in the interview. Instead she decided she was going to be an air stewardess because she had developed a fear of flying after being on a plane journey that nearly crashed. She said she wanted to get over that fear.

I met a guy, pulling pints, who moved from South Africa with the love of his life, who later abandoned him to the English weather, leaving him only his clothes and the mutual tattoo they got dedicated to each other on his hand, which…

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