Gertrude: The Tragic Heroine Of Shakespeare's Hamlet

3356 words - 13 pages

Gertrude: The Tragic Heroine of Hamlet

 
Hamlet is perhaps English literature's most renowned play; a masterwork by the greatest of all masters, Shakespeare, from its very appearance Hamlet has not ceased to delight audiences and confound spectators. The complexity of the main character, prince Hamlet, is so vast that all who have attempted to decipher his character fulsomely have failed. Amidst his own grandeur, Hamlet makes the other characters pale. As they blur into literary oblivion due to the magnetism of the central character, other characters are often disregarded as one-dimensional and are not done sufficient justice. Gertrude, victim of Hamlet's virulent verbal abuse, is often seen through the bitter eyes of her son and thus her true character is seldom recognized. However, Shakespeare, incapable of mediocrity, instilled in Gertrude more complexity than simple analysis might yield. He bestowed her the appearance of an unscrupulous woman, one for whom shame is a stranger and who acts guided solely by her carnal desires; furthermore, she gives signs of being a frivolous queen, one who occupies her mind in simple contemplations, and for whom profound matters are inaccessible. Finally, he made her seem an insensitive mother incapable of empathy for her son's grief and oblivious to true sensibility. Nonetheless, it is Gertrude's desire for reconcilement and her need to avoid conflict that make her appear an unscrupulous woman, a frivolous Queen and an insensitive mother.  

Certainly the most widespread opinion regarding Gertrude is that she is an unscrupulous woman; however, it is her desire for reconcilement and her need to avoid conflict that make her appear unscrupulous.  With all the force of his first soliloquy, Hamlet presents the Queen as the most grotesquely unscrupulous woman. His memory of his father goads him to remember how "She would hang on him as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on;" (Hamlet I, i 150-51) and, immediately following, as if abhorred by the mere memory, he recriminates her much too speedy remarriage, lamenting "and yet within a month- let me not think on't!" ( Hamlet I, ii 151-152)  Such an abrupt introduction to the queen, full of bitterness and remorse, immediately stains her image showing her to be an unscrupulous woman, and thus what to a more discerning would be a demonstration of desire for reconcilement and need to avoid conflict, becomes rapidly a sign of frivolity. Aggravatingly, Hamlet continues to condemn her "most wicked speed" with a vivid carnal imagery, saying "to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets." ( Hamlet I, ii 163)   Furthermore, the ghost of Hamlet senior, when narrating the episode of his murder to Hamlet, vituperates her calling her a "most seeming-virtuous queen" and then, with powerfully abhorring carnal imagery, continues to say in reference to the Queen's relationship with Claudius, "so lust, though to a radiant angel linked, will sate itself in a...

Find Another Essay On Gertrude: The Tragic Heroine of Shakespeare's Hamlet

Shakespeare's Hamlet - Regarding Gertrude Essay

2056 words - 8 pages himself – prior to his brother’s passing. “So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd, / Will sate itself in a celestial bed,/And prey on garbage.” There is no doubt that Gertrude is a sinner in this play. In her book, Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes, Lily B. Campbell describes the extent of Gertrude’s sin and of her punishment:   And of the Queen’s punishment as it goes on throughout the play, there can be no doubt either. Her love for Hamlet

Passionate Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

2922 words - 12 pages Passionate Gertrude in Hamlet             Like so many of the characters in Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, Gertrude appears to be dominated by passion. This essay will explore this and other aspects of her interesting character.   Lilly B. Campbell comments in “Grief That Leads to Tragedy” on Queen Gertrude’s sinful state:   Shakespeare’s picture of the Queen is explained to us by Hamlet’s speech to her in her closet. There

Shakespeare's Hamlet: Who is Gertrude?

2106 words - 8 pages Hamlet –Who is Gertrude?       Back in 1883 Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets comments on what he interprets as a problem or inconsistency in the presentation of the character Gertrude in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet:        Ham. A bloody deed;- almost as bad, good mother,      As kill a king, and marry with his brother.      Queen. As kill a king?   I confess that

Shakespeare's Hamlet and its Gertrude

1898 words - 8 pages Hamlet and its Gertrude         How queenly is the current queen in Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet? Is she an unprincipled opportunist? A passion-dominated lover? A wife first and mother last? Let’s study her life in this play.   Courtney Lehmann and Lisa S. Starks in "Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of 'Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet," comment on the contamination of the queen

Custom Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay: Hamlet and Gertrude

2010 words - 8 pages Hamlet and the Character of Gertrude        Shakespeare’s sinful woman in the tragedy Hamlet is named Gertrude. Wife of Claudius and mother of the prince, she is not selected by the ghost for vengeance by the protagonist. Let’s consider her story in this essay.   There is no doubt that Gertrude is a sinner in this play. In her book, Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes, Lily B. Campbell describes the extent of Gertrude’s sin and of her

Essay Contrasing Gertrude and Ophelia of Shakespeare's Hamlet

1884 words - 8 pages Contrast of Gertrude and Ophelia in Hamlet         Queen Gertrude and Ophelia, the main female characters in Shakespeare’s dramatic tragedy Hamlet, have a variety of contrasting or dissimilar personal qualities and experiences. This essay, with the help of literary critics, will explore these differences.   John Dover Wilson in his book, What Happens in Hamlet, discusses what is perhaps the greatest dissimilarity between Ophelia

Custom Written Essays: Contrasting Gertrude and Ophelia of Shakespeare's Hamlet

2040 words - 8 pages Introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet, David Bevington analyzes the dissimilarity: “Characters also serve as foils to one another as well as to Hamlet. Gertrude wishfully sees in Ophelia the blushing bride of Hamlet, innocently free from the compromises and surrenders which Gertrude has never mastered the strength to escape” (9).   Ophelia is so despondent at the death of Polonius and the alienation of Hamlet that she

Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet and John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius

2010 words - 8 pages Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet and John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius In every royal court throughout history, there has been the man who knows everything about everyone, and generally has the ear of the king; Shakespeare’s court of Denmark is no exception. Polonius, adviser and Lord Chamberlain to King Hamlet and Claudius, seems to know every intrigue, every alliance made in the interwoven royal court. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet

Essay on Gertrude and Ophelia’s Death in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1758 words - 7 pages Gertrude and Ophelia’s Death in Hamlet   The Queen gives a remarkably detailed account of Ophelia’s death leaving one to believe that she may have witnessed the event. We know that she emphasized with Ophelia’s suffering to such an extent that perhaps she realized that the kindest action to take would be to let Ophelia decide her own fate, although she clearly was not in a fit state of mind to do this and was barely aware of her

Character analysis of Hamlet as a tragic hero in Shakespeare's "Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark"

740 words - 3 pages Hamlet is not the usual tragic hero that Shakespeare liked to use in his works. In "The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark" he does not die an evil man, but is complemented by Horatio and Fortinbras. There are many different thoughts on what Hamlet's tragic flaw is; jealousy, inaction, and insanity are all accepted as possibilities. Jealously and inaction are very plausible, but Hamlet was not insane.Hamlet is in love with his mother Gertrude

Shakespeare's Macbeth and Hamlet as Tragic Heroes

889 words - 4 pages Macbeth and Hamlet as Tragic Heroes      William Shakespeare has written many literary works - from his sonnets to his plays, each has it's own individual characteristics.  One popular characteristic that comes from his plays is the tragic hero.  The audience can always relate to the tragic hero and the many trials he faces.  Macbeth and Hamlet are just two of Shakespeare's plays that involve the tragic hero.  Through their nobility

Similar Essays

The Character Of Gertrude In Shakespeare's Hamlet

2161 words - 9 pages The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet The Gertrude in Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet is controversial in the sense that some critics uphold her morality and some deny it. Let’s consider this question and others related to this character. Gertrude has many good qualities in the play; she is not evil through and through. Rebecca Smith in “Scheming Adulteress or Loving Mother” presents an image of the queen in

The Character Of Gertrude In Shakespeare's Hamlet

537 words - 2 pages The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet         It is tempting to condemn Gertrude as evil, but it is probably more sensible to consider her as weak and inconstant. Hamlet's heartfelt line "Frailty, thy name is woman" sums up his view of her actions early in the play. Like many of Shakespeare's women characters, she is "sketched in" rather than drawn in detail. We know that she has a deep affection for her son, which is

Shakespeare's Hamlet The Character Of Gertrude

1499 words - 6 pages Hamlet – the Character of Gertrude       Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, presents ten male characters for every one female character. The only prominent female characters are two: Ophelia, Laertes’ sister and Polonius’ daughter; and Gertrude, the queen and wife of Claudius and mother of Hamlet. This essay will explore the character, role, and importance of Gertrude.   Prince Hamlet initially appears in the play dressed in solemn

Shakespeare's Hamlet Gertrude Essay

2552 words - 10 pages Hamlet!’ The simple endearment is very poignant, reminding us that the bond between mother and son, and Hamlet’s desperate jealousy of Claudius, account for as much of the tragic progress of the play as the need to avenge old Hamlet’s death (46-47).   Is Gertrude a mother first, and queen second? This essay hopes to resolve seeming contradictions in the character of Queen Gertrude, as well as dealing with other aspects of her multi
Historys Strongest Disciple Kenichi | Ghost Adventures Season 17 Episode 5 | Kamuflaż / Covert Affairs (...