The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

1960 Words 8 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 Shakespeare’s Hamlet that is perhaps not consistent with that presented by the ghost:

Although she may have been partially responsible for Claudius’ monstrous act of fratricide and although her marriage to Claudius may have been indirectly responsible for making a “monster” of Hamlet, Gertrude is
…show more content…
At the outset of the drama, Hamlet’s mother is apparently disturbed by her son’s appearance in solemn black at the gathering of the court, and she requests of him:

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! . . . .” Mary Bradford-Whiting, in her article “Mothers in Shakespeare” compares the mother of Juliet to the

Related Documents