The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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Who is the bad lady in Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet? Who else but Gertrude? Is there a consensus in this evaluation? Let’s delve into the life and circumstances of this character. Gunnar Bokland in “Hamlet” describes Gertrude’s moral descent during the course of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: With Queen Gertrude and finally also Laertes deeply involved in a situation of increasing ugliness, it becomes clear that, although Claudius and those who associate with him are not the incarnations of evil that Hamlet sees in them, they are corrupt enough from any balanced point of view, a condition that is also intimated by the “heavy-headed revel” that distinguishes life at the Danish court. (123) Gertrude’s “contamination” does indeed affect the hero. Courtney Lehmann and Lisa S. Starks in "Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of 'Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet," comment that “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 jo... ... middle of paper ... ...oes. 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 <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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