An Analysis of Queen Gertrudes Position in King Hamlets Death in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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An Analysis of Queen Gertrudes Position in King Hamlets Death in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Usually in a playwright, one of the author's objectives is to keep the viewer or reader confused or disconcerted about certain events in the plot. Certain characters in a play or story that have concocted covert schemes to perhaps murder or frame somebody, may have confusing effects on the viewer. Depending on the way the plan was developed in the plot the viewer may have to stop and ask themselves; who was involved; who was killed or framed; what events actually transpired; and what events happened after the murder. The viewer/reader is always trying to understand the events that have just recently taken place, or events that will take place in the play. Being careful not to miss anything the viewer/reader may overlook a fact that has slipped by them and unknowingly they relegate the major facts that will help them solve the mystery below those that are irrelevant to the topic. Sometimes in cases like this, the characters that are not guilty of the crime are mistaken for those who actually committed the crime, and vice versa. In some cases, a possible character is suspected of the crime and nothing more. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet King Hamlet is murdered and the perpetrator is clearly defined, whereas one is not. Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's wife is in question of being a plotter.

It is definite that King Hamlet's death was a premeditated plot, however it is not certain whether or not Queen Gertrude is an accomplice or not. The assumption that Gertrude does not know about her husband's murder can be heavily supported by factual details and just as well, the other side of the fence can be supported too. Although Gertrude...

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...mplicating the queen even further. Making it worse, "Critics generally regard Gertrude as weakwilled, highly dependent on Claudius and easily manipulated by him." (Shakespeare's Characters for Students 90). If Gertrude can be easily manipulated by Claudius, then she is just as guilty as he is.

Although Gertrude's being guilty or not guilty is still a question that is debated today between critics, there is enough evidence in the reading for the reader to determine the proper punishment. But the reader will often find perplexing and perhaps even questions without answers.


Shakespeare's Characters for Students. Ed. Catherine C. Dominic. Maryland: Washington D.C. 1997

Shakespeare for Students. "Critical Interpretations". Ed. Mark W. Scott. Michigan: Detroit 1992

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. 1957. New York: Penquin, 1970