Hamlet and Gertrude: Love or Hate
Imagine it, while away at college you receive word that your beloved father who had seemed in good health only a short while ago has died leaving your mother and yourself. This situation would be enough to bring great depression to even the strongest of souls but for Hamlet, the fictional prince of Denmark in Shakespeare's play of the same name, this is not his imagination but cruel reality. Not only has his father passed but, as if to mock the very memory of the former king, Gertrude, Hamlet's mother and queen, has married again within two months. This shock is further compounded by the fact the her new husband is none other than her former brother-in-law, Claudius.
Unable to return to the university due to his over whelming despair, Hamlet is trapped by his loving parents and not allowed to leave Denmark until certified well. It is at this time he receives word from his friend Horatio that the spirit of his father has returned and walks the night. During the Elizabethan period of English literature, man and nature were thought to be linked as part of a "great chain of being". To Hamlet, the fact that his father had returned showed that this chain had been disrupted by some evil in the world of man. That he had returned as a ghost could mean only one thing, his death was not an accident. The ghost beseeches Hamlet to avenge him but warns him, "taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother aught . . . leave her to heaven".
This statement by the ghost was left open enough for Hamlet to develop many questions about his mother's actual involvement in his father's death. At first, Hamlet's rage is confined to his uncle Claudius but quickly and violently shifts towards his mother, dwelling upon the horrible thought that she might have been involved. "Oh most pernicious women!" He screams, "O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!" Hamlet speaks as though he has temporarily forgotten his promise to...
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