Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay

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The Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Is Gertrude, in the Shakespearean drama Hamlet, a bore? A killer’s accomplice? The perfect queen? A dummy? This paper will answer many questions concerning Claudius’ partner on the Danish throne.

In her essay, “Acts III and IV: Problems of Text and Staging,” Ruth Nevo explains how the hero’s negative outlook toward Gertrude influences his attitude toward Ophelia:

Whereas it is precisely his total inability to know her [Ophelia], or for that matter himself, that the scene, in this theatrically simpler view, would allow us to perceive as the center of his anguish. He is tormented precisely by doubts, not by confirmations. And how indeed should he know what Ophelia is? Is
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The queen obviously considers her son’s dejection to result from his father’s demise. Angela Pitt considers Gertrude “a kindly, slow-witted, rather self-indulgent woman. . . .” (47). She joins in with the king in requesting Hamlet’s stay in Elsinore rather than returning to Wittenberg to study. Respectfully the son replies, “I shall in all my best obey you, madam.” So at the outset the audience notes a decidedly good relationship between Gertrude and those about her in the drama, even though Hamlet’s “suit of mourning has been a visible and public protest against the royal marriage, a protest in which he is completely alone, and in which he has hurt his mother” (Burton “Hamlet”). Hamlet’s first soliloquy expresses his anger at the quickness of his mother’s marriage to Claudius, an “o’erhasty marriage” (Gordon 128), and its incestuousness since it is between family: “Frailty, thy name is woman! . . . .” Rebecca Smith interprets his anti-motherly feelings: “Hamlet’s violent emotions toward his mother are obvious from his first soliloquy, in which 23 of the 31 lines express his anger and disgust at what he perceives to be Gertrude’s weakness, insensitivity, and, most important, bestiality” (80).

When the ghost talks privately to Hamlet, he learns not only about the murder of his father, but also about the unfaithfulness and adultery of his mother, “the human truth” (Abrams 467). Lilly B.
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