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Hamlet Analysis: Queen Gertrude

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Hamlet Analysis: Queen Gertrude

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  • May 2008
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Character Analysis: Queen Gertrude
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, one of the most interestingly designed characters is his mother, Queen Gertrude. Throughout the play, she is not only one of the most significant characters but the center of various controversies. In general, she brings up numerous questions within the reader as she is driven by her endless need to fulfill her desire for affection.

At the most basic level, Queen Gertrude is almost like a child. Her actions don’t seem to be well planned and are sometimes shallow as she looks to delight herself. She also seems to have a tendency to use men as a form of self-fulfillment. However, interestingly enough, she also has a tendency to lie for the sake of others. For example, she tells the King that Hamlet has killed Polonius yet gives him the impression the Hamlet regrets what he has done when in fact he does not. One thing remains constant throughout the entire play and that is her loyalty and undeniable affection for her son, Hamlet.

One thing that Shakespeare seems to do solely with Queen Gertrude’s character is fill the reader with more questions about her and her past than answers. In the first few scenes the reader is instantly curious about her loyalty to her husband. The audience is left to wonder if she was involved with Claudius prior to the death of Hamlet’s father. Also, the audience is left to wonder if she knew about Claudius’ intent to murder and furthermore if her actions were to protect Hamlet or herself. Her actions to protect Hamlet allow the reader to see her more compassionate and motherly side. Yet all of the questions posed to the audience are never specifically answered and are left to the individual to decide. Specifically in Act 4, Scene 5, Queen Gertrude has few lines though all are full of emotion. First, she expresses her distaste for the actions of the Danes and then Laertes furiously breaks into the scene. Angrily, he accuses the king of killing his father...