Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay

Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay

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The Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 
    Is Gertrude, in the Shakespearean drama Hamlet, a bore? A killer’s accomplice? The perfect queen? A dummy? This paper will answer many questions concerning Claudius’ partner on the Danish throne.

 

In her essay, “Acts III and IV: Problems of Text and Staging,” Ruth Nevo explains how the hero’s negative outlook toward Gertrude influences his attitude toward Ophelia:

 

Whereas it is precisely his total inability to know her [Ophelia], or for that matter himself, that the scene, in this theatrically simpler view, would allow us to perceive as the center of his anguish. He is tormented precisely by doubts, not by confirmations. And how indeed should he know what Ophelia is? Is she loving and faithful to him despite parental authority? Or compliant to the latter and therefore false to him? What has she been told about him? Is he not testing her with his hyperbolic declaration:

 

I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offenses at my back than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in?

 

His mother has predisposed him to believe in women’s perfidy, has produced in him a revulsion from sex and the stratagems of sex; he was unable to draw Ophelia’s face by his perusal; she has refused his letters and denied him access; now returns his gifts. What form of devious double-dealing shall he expect? (49-50)

 

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...


... middle of paper ...


...loom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Rpt. from Tragic Form in Shakespeare. N.p.: Princeton University Press, 1972.

 

Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Excerpted 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. of “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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