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Custom Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay: Hamlet and Gertrude

analytical Essay
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1925 words
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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 punishment:

And of the Queen’s punishment as it goes on throughout the play, there can be no doubt either. Her love for Hamlet, her grief, the woes that come so fast that one treads upon the heel of another, her consciousness of wrong-doing, her final dismay are those also of one whose soul has become alienated from God by sin.(146)

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 in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

Hamlet, a play that centres on the crisis of the masculine subject and its "radical confrontation with the sexualized maternal body," foregrounds male anxiety about mothers, female sexuality, and hence, sexuality itself. Obsessed with the corruption of the flesh, Hamlet is pathologically fixated on questions of his own origin and destination -- questions which are activated by his irrepressible attraction to and disgust with the "contaminated" body of his mother. (1)

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:

Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,

And let thi...

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Campbell, Lily B. Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc, 1970.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets. London : George Bell and Sons, 1904. p. 342-368. http://ds.dial.pipex.com/thomas_larque/ham1-col.htm

Jorgensen, Paul A. “Hamlet.” William Shakespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publ., 1985. N. pag. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/jorg-hamlet.html

Lehmann, Courtney and Lisa S. Starks. "Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of 'Reading Psychoanalysis Into' Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet." Early Modern Literary Studies 6.1 (May, 2000): 2.1-24 .

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the audience notes a decidedly good relationship between gertrude and those about her in the drama.
  • Analyzes how the ghost talks privately to hamlet about the murder of his father and the unfaithfulness and adultery of her mother. the revelation shows gertrude's complex temperament and motivation and renders her much more rounded in the dramatist’s development
  • Analyzes how hamlet, after running polonius through with his rapier, is so emotional that he falsely accuses gertrude of killing his father, alarming the queen, who blurts out, "as kill a king!"
  • Analyzes how gertrude reports to claudius only hamlet’s killing of polonius – reportedly due to his madness — thus keeping her word to her son.
  • Analyzes how osric invites hamlet to a rapier contest with laertes. gertrude drinks from the cup poisoned by the king and kills him.
  • Analyzes how shakespeare's sinful woman, gertrude, is not selected for vengeance by the protagonist. her love for hamlet, grief, and dismay are those of one whose soul has become alienated from god by sin.
  • Opines that hamlet has a mother, each remembrance of which is an annoyance to his distressed mind.
  • Analyzes how shakspere left the character of the queen in an unpleasant perplexity.
  • Cites abrams, m. h., bradford-whiting, mary, and burton, philip.
  • Cites coleridge, samuel taylor, jorgensen, paul a., lehmann, courtney, and lisa s. starks.
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