The role of women

Gertrude

Hamlet's hatred and contempt

At the beginning of Act I of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, before Hamlet even knows that his uncle is responsible for the death of his father, he makes it clear that Claudius is nothing like his father, metaphorically describing him as a "satyr" (1.2.143). Otherwise, however, he does not consider him with many words.

Hamlet's contempt and hatred are mainly directed at Gertrude. He is tormented by one fact in particular: that his mother has remarried less than two months after her husband's death and has thus given up mourning him. In his first monologue, he hardly talks about anything other than his mother's moral weakness: "Frailty, thy name is woman!! (...) O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not nor it cannot come to good" (1.2.149-150)

When Hamlet is called upon by the ghost of his deceased father to take revenge on Claudius, he must force himself to put the conflict with his mother in the background. He is explicitly told by the ghost not to do anything against his mother, but to leave her to "heaven And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, To prick and sting her." (1.5.92-94). However, Hamlet cannot stop himself from cursing his mother again as a "most pernicious woman" (1.5.111) immediately after the Ghost's appearance. Gertrude remains the object of Hamlet's contempt, which is her main role throughout the play.

The mother-son relationship is most impressively described in the last scene of Act III. Hamlet raises a fierce moral complaint against her, shows her no respect anymore, and instructs her to adopt a virtue she does not have (105 3.4.156-173). Hamlet's behavior is so violent that Gertrude fears for her life and the ghost of Hamlet's father reappears to call him to moderation (3.4.123). Hamlet's buried aggression toward his mother consequently threatens to surface throughout the drama. 

Gertrude and Claudius

Gertrude is not only the object of Hamlet's hatred, but also that of Claudius' desire. In her relationship with Claudius, Gertrude behaves rather passively. She does not object to the fact that her beloved son is being spied on from several sides, even acting as a decoy herself and allowing Hamlet to be sent to England as a tribute collector. It remains unclear whether she acts this way because she truly loves Claudius. Gertrude does not have a single monologue and is not shown in any dialogue in which she could reveal much of her inner se...

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