The Character Of Gertrude In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

1512 words - 6 pages


   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.

 

Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, is apparently disturbed by her son’s appearance in solemn black at the gathering of the court, and she requests of him:

 

     Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,

     And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

     Do not for ever with thy vailed lids

     Seek for thy noble father in the dust:

     Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,

     Passing through nature to eternity. (1.2)

 

The queen obviously considers her son’s dejection to result from his father’s demise. She joins the king in asking Hamlet to stay in Elsinore rather than returning to Wittenberg. Respectfully the prince 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”). Gertrude would be hurt even more if she were to overhear Hamlet’s first soliloquy, which  expresses anger at the quickness of his mother’s marriage and its incestuousness: “Frailty, thy name is woman! . . . .”

 

When the ghost talks privately to Hamlet, the prince learns not only about the murder of his father, but also about the unfaithfulness and adultery of his mother. Gertrude was seduced by “that incestuous, that adulterate beast, / With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts” – Claudius 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.” This revelation shows Gertrude’s complex temperament and motivation and renders her much more rounded in the dramatist’s development of her (Abrams 33). The ghost asks the protagonist to disregard revenge on Gertrude: “Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught,” and to leave her “to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, / To prick and sting her.”

 

Gertrude has a contrasting character in the person of Ophelia, who is the picture of purity and innocence. Ophelia obeys her very morally and socially conservative father, Polonius, in every detail, even to the extent of giving him her love-letters from Hamlet; unlike Gertrude, who brazenly violates her marriage vow, then breaks social conventions in marrying within a month of her first husband’s funeral, and incestuously marrying her husband’s brother. Though Gertrude and Ophelia contrast morally, they are close socially; the queen confides in...

Find Another Essay On The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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

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

The Hamlet Project - Gertrude

2092 words - 8 pages In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Gertrude is Hamlet’s mother and Queen of Denmark. Hamlet and Queen Gertrude have a rocky relationship throughout the story., since he resents her for marrying her husband’s brother Claudius after he murdered the King (young Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet). Gertrude reveals no guilt in her marriage with Claudius. The immediacy of her second marriage suggest that there may be some

The Effects of Targeting the Audience in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

1526 words - 6 pages , drawing them in and manipulating the way they interpreted his works. This is evident in one of his renowned plays, Hamlet. Attempts to target the audience are evident throughout the play, but focusing on one speech can provide a greater appreciation for Shakespeare’s deliberate efforts. In act four, scene two, while explaining that Polonius is dead, Hamlet says: Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain convocation of politic worms are

The Character of Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

850 words - 3 pages The Character of Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest Caliban is one of the most interesting of Shakespeare’s characters. For centuries, scholars have puzzled over the meaning and importance of this central character. Who or what is this creature? Is he a man or a beast (Peterson, p.2)? Most of the people who have debated this question take the question itself at face value. Caliban is either a man or a beast. The other characters in

Explore the Character of Mercutio in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

1055 words - 4 pages the main characters in this play. His speeches tell us a lot about him and his actions have a large affect on the ending of the play. Mercutio’s name means mercurial meaning “an unpredictable and fast changing mood” which is an accurate description of Mercutio's personality because in Queen Mabs speech at the beginning he is joking and seeking attention, but at the end he becomes serious and angry. Mercutio is the comic character in the play and

Passionate Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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

The Character of Claudius in Shakespeare's Hamlet

2283 words - 9 pages The Character of Claudius in Hamlet        Shakespeare presents Claudius as a character with many faces yet the audience can clearly understand his motives and ambition throughout the play. His character does however change and we clearly see how his evilness and weakness increases as his need to escape discovery and his clandestine nature in doing so, is revealed.       It is in Act one scene two that we are first introduced

The Character of Laertes in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1291 words - 5 pages The Character of Laertes in Hamlet Though seeming to simply be a minor character, Laertes is of great importance in the play, Hamlet, and much more than one would initially believe, due to his extensive inner conflict. He is good, loyal, and honorable, seeming to possess the greatest virtue of all the characters, yet he still is doomed to die along with the other characters, precisely because of his great virtue.     As Scene Two

The Character of Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1197 words - 5 pages The Character of Ophelia in Hamlet      In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, the character Ophelia plays an important role in the elaboration of the plot.  In the beginning, she is in a healthy state of mind, in love with Hamlet, yet controlled by her father.  During the play she has several troubling experiences involving Hamlet - causing her to become distressed.  The death of Ophelia's father leaves her mentally unstable and in a state of

Similar Essays

The Character Of Gertrude In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

1612 words - 6 pages   The character of Gertrude in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, is not a woman for emulation by others. She is too human, and not very intelligent. Let’s consider her in this essay.   Mary Bradford-Whiting, in her article “Mothers in Shakespeare” compares the mother of Juliet to the mother of Hamlet:   Juliet has a mother, to whose heart of stone she appeals in vain:   . . . O, sweet my mother, cast me not away! [Romeo

Gertrude Of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay

2050 words - 8 pages The Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet       Is Gertrude, in the Shakespearean drama Hamlet, a bore? A killer’s accomplice? The perfect queen? A dumbie? 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 the deleterious effect of Gertrude’s behavior on her son’s relationship with Ophelia:   His mother has

Gertrude Of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay

3166 words - 13 pages 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

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
Deadpool 2 (Super Duper Cut) (2018) | Металлические ремесла | S.H. Kolee