Essay on Hamlet RD

Submitted By Madelyn-Weber
Words: 1267
Pages: 6

Madelyn Weber
Mrs. Myers
LA 12, per 4
15 December, 2014
Gertrude: Villain or Victim Parents have a big influence on people’s character, the path of their lives, and the decisions they make. Although most people are able to trust their parents and their words, there are a few cases where the actions of parents lead to wariness and uncertainty. In his play, Hamlet, Shakespeare surrounds Gertrude’s character with ambiguity to compound her son, Hamlet’s, indecisiveness about his purpose and feelings, create questions regarding the motives of other characters, and keep the audience in a similar state as Hamlet, where no one knows who to trust. Gertrude’s ambiguity develops an issue of trust in Hamlet’s life that forces him to answer a pivotal question while in isolation. Presently, Hamlet has lost his father, and the one person that should be enduring the same grief is not even sorrowful, “Why she, even she—/O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason/would have mourned longer” (I.ii.150-152). It has been no more than two months since King Hamlet’s passing, and Gertrude has proceeded to live a normal life and even marry his uncle; Hamlet wonders how his mother can be so buoyant after such a tragedy. Hamlet fears that his mother has committed a crime against his father and had intent to marry her brother-in-law in order to keep her crown, but his fear is simply a theory based on external emotions. However, Hamlet receives the evidence he needs from his father’s ghost: “the will of my most seeming-virtuous queen:/O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!” (I.v.46-47), and commands him to kill his murderous uncle and leave his mother in torment. Hamlet discovers his worst fear when he learns Gertrude had prior knowledge about the treason and was possibly even involved. Hamlet has no reason to trust his mother or doubt his desire to enact his revenge on her husband, so he has seemingly made his decision with the help of a ghost. Nevertheless, Hamlet is not sure he can trust the ghost because when it returns, only Hamlet can see it, even as he pleads, “Why, look you there! Look how it steals away—/My father, in habit as he lived—/Look where he goes, even now, out at the portal!” (III.iv.137-139). Hamlet doubts his own sanity and the only evidence he has to prove his mother’s guilt, so his procrastination is exasperated by the possibility of hurting his innocent mother. Shakespeare uses Gertrude’s ambiguity to place doubts in Hamlet’s mind as his apprehensions about murder grow and his confidence in his plan diminishes. Hamlet’s indecisiveness fueled by Gertrude’s ambiguity is an excuse for him to evade his ploy for revenge. Gertrude’s ambiguity governs many other characters and their decisions throughout the play and brings their motives into question. For example, she requests Hamlet’s friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to keep a watchful eye on him, and “for the supply and profit of our hope,/your visitation shall receive such thanks/as fits a king’s remembrance” (II.ii.23-25). These two men are seemingly just looking out for an old friend, but they are also receiving thanks from the crown, which will in turn bring riches and glory. The queen may also have other intentions besides looking out for her son’s well being, and if this is the case, then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are after much more than protecting a friend but siding themselves with the reigning criminals. Comparatively, the King’s aide, Polonius, is told to spy on Hamlet and Gertrude’s rendezvous, “’Tis meet that some more audience than a mother—/since nature makes them partial—should o’erhear/The speech, of vantage” (III.ii.34-36). Gertrude’s role in the murder of King Hamlet dictates who Polonius is watching because an allied Queen would necessitate protection of Gertrude from a crazed son. Shakespeare uses this cryptic scene to further the labyrinth of corruption that exists in the castle and place further suspicion to the guilt of Gertrude and other