Understandably, the intense relationship between Hamlet and his uncle is not a sturdy bond, even before Hamlet learnt of his father’s murder, and before Claudius began to fear for his safety. It is believed that Hamlet’s distrust and dislike towards Claudius sprung from his mothers “o’erhasty marriage” 2.2.57 and would certainly be the origins of Hamlet’s suspicions. The best scene in which to view the relationship of Hamlet and Claudius would be Scene 3 of Act 4, where Claudius confronts Hamlet about the murder of Polonius.
In this scene, Hamlet does appear to be acting insane, one reason for this being to throw Claudius off. Another examination of this scene shows that Hamlet could be just being cheeky towards Claudius. By this point in the play, Hamlet has discovered Claudius’ secret and has proclaimed him guilty. One perspective states that he now has no reason to show any loyalties to his uncle, and so Hamlet talks in riddles and aims to scare and confuse Claudius. For example, Hamlet farewells Claudius, calling him mother. When corrected, Hamlet states “My mother. Mother and father is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother” 4.3.48-49. While some believe Hamlet says this out of madness, it is widely accepted that Hamlet would be acting, in order to unsettle Claudius.
Hamlet succeeds in troubling Claudius, and because of this, Claudius decides to act. Claudius plans to send Hamlet to England where Hamlet would be executed upon arrival. The fact that Claudius could so easily organise Hamlet’s death shows the fear and panic that exists within Hamlet and Claudius’ relationship. While it is believed that Claudius would have always feared Hamlet, and what he would do if he learnt of the King’s murder, this scene, where Claudius discovers Hamlets murderous intentions and utter madness drives him to action.
One of the most controversial relationships within Hamlet is that between mother and child, and the scene that sparks this controversy is the Closet Scene, Act 3 Scene 4. This controversy comes from a Freudian reading of Hamlet, one that shows the implication of a somewhat sexual relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude, known as the Oedipus complex. Many believe that this view of Hamlet and Gertrude’s relationship is a completely modern idea that has been created by the various adaptations and transformations of the original text, is “a needless perversion of the text”, and does not in any way “fit with the words and language [Shakespeare] uses”. Although many do believe that Shakespeare intentionally implied a sexual relationship. When Hamlet speaks to his mother, saying such things as “Nay, but to live in the rank sweat of an inseaméd bed, stewed in corruption, honeying and making love, over the nasty sty” 3.4.91-94, he uses language that would not typically be used between a mother and son, unless there was some underlying obsession between the two.
Whether it is sexual or not, Hamlet’s relationship with his mother, his anger and disgust, is believed to be a result of Claudius’ ‘whoreing’ of his mother, instead of being focussed directly upon Gertrude. While Edwards rightfully states that Gertrude’s “remarriage makes [Hamlet] call in question the consistency of all women. … ‘Frailty, thy name is woman.’ 1.2.146”, he does not state that the focus of Hamlets rage is on his mother. Johnson shows that despite Hamlet’s apparent anger towards his mother, “he tries to save Gertrude, even to forgive her” when he confronts her in the closet scene. Hamlet urges Gertrude to “throw away the worser part”3.4.158 of her heart, and to become pure again. He only wishes to protect his mother.
Even though this scene shows Hamlet becoming angry, perhaps even violent towards his mother, and “even though Hamlet lashes out at her with all the rage he can muster,” as Mabillard describes it, “Gertrude remains faithful to him, protecting him from the King.” The true...
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