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Shakespeare's Hamlet and its Gertrude

Powerful Essays
Hamlet and its Gertrude

How queenly is the current queen in Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet? Is she an unprincipled opportunist? A passion-dominated lover? A wife first and mother last? Let’s study her life in this play.

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 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. 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 decidedl...

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...ges.com/hamlet/other/burton-hamlet.htm

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 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/06-1/lehmhaml.htm>.

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.
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