Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hamlet's Bashing of his mother Gertrude

While reading, I started to wonder why Hamlet seemed to bash Gertrude so much when his Uncle Claudius was the one who killed his father.  Throughout their encounters, Hamlet talks violently to her bashing her for basically committing a form of "treason" against his father and the former king.  If I were Hamlet, I feel like I would have had more anger toward my uncle who actually committed the murder than towards my mother.  I was wondering if this was just the time the play was written in and how women were viewed in society.  Possibly people's feelings about women in real life at this time played a role in Shakespeare's writing of Gertrude in his play.  I know in previous literary works we have read that women are viewed as adulterous.  Maybe Shakespeare and people of the Elizabethan Era still shared some of the same views.  What do you think?


Laura N said...

I think his extreme anger toward Gertrude was justified. I think Hamlet is unforgiving because she betrayed her husband and Hamle horribly. She betrayed her husband by hastily marrying his own brother. It would make the action worse if she knew Claudius killed him, but it really doesn't matter much (to me) whether she knows how he died or not. There's just some things you don't do right after your spouse dies if you truly loved them, were loyal to them, and missed them. One of those things is marrying their sibling one month after their death. She betrayed Hamlet's perception of her too. Hamlet probably had a vision of his mother as a doting and loving wife and decent person, but when she married Claudius, those preconceptions evaporated. Now he no longer knows what his mother's character is. It's probably painful that he cant trust his own mother. As for the conception of women during the 1600s, I don't know exactly whether this reflects a common view towards women.

wkuehne said...

Shakespeare tends to paint main women characters in a negative light. Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth" encourages, and spurs Macbeth on when Macbeth is indecisive about whether to kill people. Gertrude, although not nearly as evil a character as Lady Macbeth, is portrayed as cold, and selfish by marrying her step-brother so soon after her husband's death.

Tyler Dean said...

i think he is right to be mad at his mom. He mentions hpw dedicated she was to Hamlet sr. when he was alive, andthe fact that she seemingly didnt care when he died told hamlet jr. that something was fishy. Then the fact that she married claudius so soon emphasizes that point even more, for why would she be so anxious to get a new husband.