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Despite having relatively few lines, Gertrude is the central figure of the play. Overtly, Gertrude is greater than other characters in the play. She is the mother of Prince Hamlet who also actively participated in the play. In the recent times, Gertrude got remarried to brother-in-law. In the play, Hamlet is revealed as a scholar who has persistently search for indescribable answers affecting lives of human beings. The vices that surround human slavery do not impact the philosopher. Gertrude is seen to be shallow minded and only thinks about beauty and other external pleasures. She fantasizes like a young child as evident by the fact that she does not engage herself in daily activities. Being an antithesis of her son, Gertrude demonstrates diverse human characteristics and traits as the play continues.
Gertrude Character and reactions
Being a central figure of the play, Hamlet dedicated most of his time and efforts dwelling on her remarriage to brother-in-law, Claudius. By remarrying Claudius, it is clear that Gertrude is very ambiguous (Clinton et al, 21). It is pretty bogus for her to remarry brother-in-law, an action that is against the norms and values of the society. Their marriage implies that she had been having an affair with her brother-in-law even before King Hamlet passed away. Claudius is suspected to have killed King Hamlet thus it is very ironical for Gertrude to remarry him. Doubtfully, she might not be aware of this situation. At one point, Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine that was prepared by her husband. Her move raises great deal of questions that Hamlet left unanswered. Some argued that she did so because she was not aware that the wine had been poisoned while others postulate that she drinks the poisoned wine simply because she was thirsty (p. 32).
Gertrude was accused of lying and other malicious deeds. Hamlet is seen lashing out her with all kind of accusations he could congregate. However, Gertrude is firm and bold enough to stand by her son. In Act IV, scene 1, Gertrude tries to protect Hamlet from Claudius. During her conversation with Claudius over the death of Polonius, she tries to cover up Hamlet. Despite the fact that having an affair with Claudius amounted to going against the societal norms and values, as his queen, she remains faithful and loyal to him. Primarily, Gertrude has great potential of loving someone. She shows great love to his new husband and offers to courageously protect him from the mob. Her love is also displayed when she shows concern about the personal affairs of Polonius and Ophelia. Furthermore, Gertrude is concern about Hamlet in the duel despite the fact she was falling in a trap unknowingly. After judging her blameless of premeditation, the men she had wronged forgive her for corporeal nature and addictive behavior towards luxurious life (p. 33).
Gertrude's self awareness is much bothering and this centers on her marriage which occurred immediately after the dead of her husband. It is clear that Gertrude wanted to marry Claudius as soon King Hamlet died but Hamlet did not hesitate to scold her. The marriage could have taken place too soon if Hamlet had not confronted her. Gertrude's comments indicate that she was not really an accomplice of Claudius. The couples had been dating for sometime but Gertrude had not revealed to him that he had a plan to remarry soon. Gertrude was much concern with Hamlet's behavior, and she hoped that the comments that ought to be made by Guildenstern could change his behavior. This hopes contrasted sharply with ideas and suggestion of Claudius, who by comparison, had sinister motives. Precisely, Gertrude's worst fault is attributed to her being insensitive to the ideas, views and opinions of her son.
The dead of her husband did not distract her attention. She showed no concern and awareness and therefore had no clue of what her son suspected. Ironically, Gertrude's motivation to monitor the behavior of her son was because she was much concerned about his life. Another perfect example which makes Gertrude's conscience much bothering is her inability to notice that the public could treat her second marriage as adulterous and incest. Gertrude is not aware of how the people around her will treat upon engaging herself in the second marriage. She believes that marrying abruptly would enable them avert sharp reactions from her son. She thinks that Hamlet would react better and strongly if they waited longer before marrying. Hamlet argues that the marriage should not have occurred under whatever circumstances; however, Gertrude fails to face the son's ideas and concept. She believes that love is the best solution for her.
Throughout the play, Gertrude seems to be poor at making judgment. Hamlet is sorry and grieving after the dead of her husband. He feels like the world is coming to an end. Under any given social settings, the remaining parent stands firm and bold to face the numerous problems and challenges that occur after the dead of another one. In this case, Gertrude ought to rise up and adopt ways of coping with life despite the departure of the father. She should stay close with her son and comfort him as much as possible. Being the mother of the grieving lonely child, Gertrude should be sensitive to her son's feelings and attitudes towards life. Contrastingly, Gertrude remarries Claudius barely three months after the death of the King. To make matter worse, she remarry the brother of the deceased husband. A concern mother is sensitive to her son's feelings upon the death of the father.
Gertrude is insensitive and she does not realize or care the humiliation that her own son will undergo upon remarrying. Hamlet would feel very humiliated because of the time the societal norms and values considered incestuous for a widow to remarry her husband's brother. Hamlet is very jealous on the premise that he should be getting more attention from the mother especially after the dead of his father. However, Gertrude does not care and never in touch with him even during the mourning period. Gertrude is a loving mother; however, she cannot understand how her son feels. When she was confronted by Hamlet following her plot to remarry, she dismisses him that it was common for all men on earth to die. Gertrude should be critical enough and should realize that King Hamlet was not just any man but her husband (p. 38).
Gertrude has been revealed as a big old cheater. After the death of her father, she married Claudius. This indicates that she had been stepping out with her fiancée even before the death of her father. The Ghost is disgusted by the behavior of Gertrude who marries Claudius immediately after the death of her husband. The Ghost gave Hamlet very disturbing information about the queen of Denmark:
"Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts, O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen." (p. 42). The Ghost accused Gertrude of committing adultery and incest as evident by when he described Claudius as incestuous beast. From the Ghost's information, it is clear that Gertrude used to cheat on her husband when he was still alive. In Shakespeare's time, an individual who commit any sexual sin was treated to have committed adultery or incest as opposed to mere cheating. Gertrude is big old cheater as indicated by ghost's vows he made to Gertrude during their marriage.
It cannot be disputed that Gertrude likes averting the truth. She is not real to herself especially in regard to consequences of her actions. Habitually, she likes lying to be people around her. Gertrude uses white lies in a quest of physically and emotionally safeguards those around her. Gertrude lies are not cruel but she considers them necessary in order to offer protection to those who he loves. She lied to her husband that Hamlet had murdered Polonius and she promise to do everything to ensure that Hamlet was safe at all times. At certain point, she told her new fiancée that her son was weeping because of his mistakes, however, Hamlet was not weeping at all (48)
Gertrude sexual character's is one of the central themes in the play. Hamlet concentrates on his mother's sexual life as indicated throughout the play, and this has had profound effect on the way audience treat Gertrude. At the initial stages of the play, it is clear that the incestuous and adulterous behavior of Gertrude has shaken up the life of Hamlet. She has made him believe that the world is marred by sins. He described the world as contaminated with weeds that are complex in nature. Prince Hamlet gets disgust with her behavior that he treats all women as immoral and liars. Critically, Hamlet is disturbed by her mother's sexual behavior than the dead news of King Hamlet.
There is sufficient evidence to dismiss the idea that Gertrude was aware of what was happening in the castle. Gertrude's behavior and words are enough to proof that she was not aware that Claudius had murder her husband. Hamlet learns about how his father was murdered from the ghost. In the guise of old Hamlet, the ghost revealed that the person who killed King Hamlet now wears the crown. It is at this point that the boy realized that Claudius had killed his father. However, at no point did the ghost implicate Gertrude and urge the son to avoid taking revenge. The ghost accuses Gertrude of incest arguing that the bed belonging to her husband had been converted to be 'a couch for damned incest'. He accused Claudius of going into the orchard where the king used to sleep and killing the king by use of poison. The ghost did not mention Gertrude (p. 65).
Despite the fact that Gertrude's behavior disgust her son, in remarrying immediately, the mother seems to show great concern and care for him. Therefore, it would be surprising and ridiculous to conclude that Gertrude deliberately helped Claudius kill King Hamlet, and then tie the knot with the executioner. Gertrude accepts to stay with her son at court hoping that he would change her perception towards her new husband. Arguably, Gertrude is not aware of what is happening in the castle since she gave no soliloquies of guilt. Additionally, the character did not indicate in then lines of his words that she involved herself in the murder. If she had colluded with her new husband, then this matter would at least allude in the course of private conversation. However, this did not happen at all (p. 78).