Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay: Observations on Gertrude

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And What of Gertrude in Hamlet? To what extent does evil reign in the heart of Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s Hamlet? This essay will delve into her character, and into the deposit of literary criticism regarding her, in order to analyze her character in depth. Philip Edwards’ “The Ghost: Messenger from a Higher Court of Values?” expresses the necessity of the Ghost leaving the guilt of Gertrude to the afterlife: The final injunction, ‘Leave her to heaven’, must temper our feeling of the Ghost’s personal vindictiveness. It is more important, however, in giving a religious context to the punishment of Claudius and Gertrude. Gertrude’s earthly punishment is to be her conscience: ‘those thorns that in her bosom lodge / To prick and sting her’. Whatever further punishment or exoneration is hers to receive belongs to an after-life. With Claudius it is different. By his words ‘Leave her to heaven’, the Ghost must imply that a higher justice requires the exemplary punishment of Claudius on earth, by the hand of an appointed human being. (67) At the outset of the tragedy Hamlet appears dressed in solemn black. His mother, Gertrude, is apparently disturbed by this and 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. Angela Pitt considers Gertrude “a kindly, slow-witted, rather self-indulgent woman. . . .” (47). She join... ... middle of paper ... ...is Into' Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet." Early Modern Literary Studies 6.1 (May, 2000): 2.1-24 http://purl.oclc.org/emls/06-1/lehmhaml.htm Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Rpt. from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html Smith, Rebecca. “Gertrude: Scheming Adulteress or Loving Mother?” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from “Hamlet”: A User’s Guide. New York: Limelight Editions, 1996. Wilkie, Brian and James Hurt. “Shakespeare.” Literature of the Western World. Ed. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992.
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