Gertrude And Gertrude In The Character Of Hamlet's Mother

780 Words 4 Pages
Carolyn Heilbrun’s The Character of Hamlet’s Mother describes the role and the characterization of the queen, Gertrude, in Hamlet. In comparison, T.S. Eliot’s Hamlet and his Problems, describes how the work of Hamlet is an artistic failure. When compared, Heilbrun’s essay is more practical and more agreeable due to its use of quotes from the play and its organized structure than that of Eliot’s. She uses this piece as a means to help readers understand the purpose that Gertrude plays in the story and the reasons for her actions. Heilbrun argues against the critics of Gertrude who claimed that she was a dull and useless character in the play. Critics wrote the queen off as an unessential character to the play or considered her to be dull and …show more content…
Heilbrun argues against these criticisms by stating that the major plots revolve around Gertrude and that her character is driven by passion. Unlike Hamlet, Gertrude’s actions affect the plot subtly and it requires a close reading to understand the impact of her actions. In her essay, Heilbrun points out that critics would consider Gertrude to be an unimportant character to the play because she does not contribute to the plot as serving more as a background character. Heilbrun argues against this claim by implying that Gertrude subtly plays an important role in the play, “Gertrude’s flaw of lust made Claudius’s ambition possible, for without taking advantage of the Queen’s desire still to be married, he could not have been king.” (232) By suggesting this idea, it shows that Gertrude’s actions created the plot of Hamlet trying to kill Claudius. By marrying Claudius and allowing him to become king, Gertrude triggered a series of events that led to …show more content…
A critic simply stated that Gertrude is considered to be old and the fact that she married quickly after the death of her husband was surprising. Heilbrun interpreted this as the critic “saying here that a woman about fourty-five years of age cannot feel any sexual passion or arouse it.” (225) While it can be interpreted it that way, I feel that the critic is also supporting Heilbrun’s argument that Gertrude is driven by passion. The critic found the idea of Gertrude remarrying to be interesting because she is being passionate which is what he considers to be not of the norm. The fact that Heilbrun is attacking this critic who is supporting Heilbrun is confusing. By including this critic’s argument and her response, Heilbrun makes it seem like she is presenting an ineffective counterargument since they are arguing for the same thing. The fact that she is arguing with someone with no further explanation on her rebuttal makes her argument seem weaker than it should

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