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Summary: Hamlet is upset with his mother’s hasty marriage to his King Uncle Father,
Claudius following his father’s death. He suspects foul play which is later confirmed by
the ghost of his father. Now, Hamlet is set on avenging the death of his father as a favor
to him. At the same time, he must figure out who is more at fault, his mother or
uncle-father. This completely messes with Hamlet’s mind and he is confused entirely on
his situation. His reaction to her marriage in the first place sent him into deep depression,
but now, there might of been an alterior motive to the whole thing.
Also, there is a certain amount of hatred/jealousy towards Claudius projected from
Hamlet. It all pertains to the subject of the “Oedipus Complex”. Was Hamlet indeed in
love with his mother and longing to take the place of her affections?
1. “a father killed, a mother stained…” Quote used to describe basic plot.
“For while few of us have murdered fathers to avenge, and not so many adulterous
mothers to shame us, there will be hardly a man in any audience to whom that word
“madness”, in some one of its meanings, has not at one time or another come dreadfully
home.”
“Gertrude is shown sensually in love with Claudius, and seductive enough to make him
commit murder for her sake”. This shows Gertrude as a vixen and suggests that she is
the reason that Claudius commited murder.
“Hamlet rages at her no more. But the compassion stirred in him soon hardens to irony.
He has, she tells him, cleft her heart in twain. His O, throw away the worser part of it,/
And live the purer with the other half…’ only preludes the Good-night; but go not to mine
uncle’s bed;/ Assume a virtue if you have it not…’.” Hamlet is talking to Gertrude in
her chambers after the play and is informing her that she is a sinful and lustful
woman. This is when he suddenly feels a sense of passion for her.
2. Explaination of Gertrude’s Character: “Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, is one of the
most crucial characters in the play because she is the focus of the love and/or anger of the
trio of men who have been or are in contention for Denmark’s throne–Hamlet’s father,
Claudius, and Hamlet himself.”
“In Shakespeare’s timeless version, Gertrude is less aware of any wrongdoing. She is
more of an innocent sex object manipulated by her husband and son and frustrated by her
desire to love and please both of them.”
The Ghost’s Obsession with Gertrude: “Before he disappears, he returns to the topic
of Gertrude’s sexual misdeed, but again admonishes Hamlet to “leave her to heaven”. The
ghost’s second appearance to Hamlet is prompted by the need for further defense of
Gertrude. Hamlet’s resolution when he is preparing to visit his mother’s
bedchamber…seems to be failing. His frezied attack on Gertrude gains verbal force and
violence until the ghost intervenes. Hamlet shares the ghost’s obsession with Gertrude’s
sexuality, but is dissipating the energy that should be directed toward avenging his father’s
murder in attacking Gertrude…The ghost intervene to …command Hamlet to protect
Gertrude, to “step between her and her fighting soul.”
Gertrude (cont.): “Hamlet’s violent emotions toward his mother are obvious from his
first soliloquy, in which twenty-three of the thirty-one lines express his anger and disgust
at what he perceives to be Gertrude’s weakness, insensitivity, and, most important,
bestiality.”
“Claudius speaks respectfully of Gertrude throughout the play. His toleration for
Hamlet’s extraordinary behavior is for his love for Gertrude.”
“Gertrude’s attractiveness for Claudius is one of the causes for obsession–and his sexual
posession of her is one of the results–of the murder of old Hamlet. Although he clearly
loves her-he shares the Hamlets’ conception of Gertrude as an object. She is “posessed”
as one of the “effects” of his actions. Though he loves her so, he will not stop her from
drinking the poisoned wine, which asks many questions for his self-restraint.”
“She is repeatedly ordered off by Claudius, which he does both to protect her from the
discovery of his guilt and to confer with her priavtely about how to deal with Hamlet.”
Guilt of Gertrude: “When speaking to Hamlet, the ghost does not state or suggest
Gertrude’s guilt in the murder