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Comparing Gertrude and Ophelia of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

A Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia in Hamlet

The Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet features two female characters in main roles, Ophelia and Gertrude. They are similar in a surprising number of ways. This essay proposes to elucidate the reader on their likeness or similarity.

It is quite obvious that both Gertrude and Ophelia are both motivated by love and a desire for quiet familial harmony among the members of their society in Elsinore. Out of love for her son does Gertrude advise:

Dear Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,

And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

Do not for ever with thy vailed lids

Seek for thy noble father in the dust. (1.2)

Likewise does she ask that the prince remain with the family: “Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet, / I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.” Later, when the hero’s supposed “madness” is the big concern, Gertrude lovingly sides with her husband in the analysis of her son’s condition: “I doubt it is no other but the main, / His father’s death and our o’erhasty marriage.” She confides her family-supporting thoughts to Ophelia: “And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish / That your good beauties be the happy cause / Of Hamlet’s wildness,” thereby attempting to keep a loving relationship with the young lady of the court, even though the latter is of a lower social stratum. When Claudius requests of Gertrude, “Sweet Gertrude, leave us too; / For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,” Gertrude responds submissively, “I shall obey you.”

Familial love is first among Gertrude’s priorities. When, at the presentation of The Mousetrap, she makes a request of her son, “Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me,” and he…

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…ossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

Boklund, Gunnar. “Hamlet.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

Burton, Philip. “Hamlet.” The Sole Voice. New York: The Dial Press, 1970. N. pag.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets. London : George Bell and Sons, 1904. p. 342-368.

Kermode, Frank. “Hamlet.” The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. No line nos.

Hamlet And Hamlet Analysis

Janelle Struble
Mr. Blazek
Literature IIA
In The Dark Knight, movie begins with Batman an appreciated hero who saves the city only to fall and become the enemy of Gotham City. Similarly in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, King Claudius is introduced as the new honored king of Denmark. As the play progresses, we find out he usurped power in killing King Hamlet, which will lead to his downfall. In Aristotle’s Poetics, he believes that objects of imitation are men in action and the men must be either of a higher or a lower type. A tragedy should aim for characters of a higher state or are better than in real life. Hamlet makes a good tragedy by its use of strong story structure, actions bringing about pity and fear, and Reversal in Recognition.
Aristotle believed that every tragedy’s story structure must contain six parts; Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, and Song. Of those six, Plot, Character, and Thought stand out most in the play Hamlet. First, Aristotle believes the principles of the Plot make it the most important factor in a tragedy. To Aristotle the plot of a tragedy must be complete with beginning, middle, and end. Hamlet has a complete plot starting with guards at Elsinore seeing a ghost, leading them to tell Hamlet, who will go seek revenge for his father’s death, and ends with no open questions as Hamlet dies from the poison blade and Fortinbras becomes king of Denmark. Second, according to Aristotle, a Character in a tragedy must be good, they must aim for propriety, they must be true to life, and they must be consistent. As Polonius sends his servant off to question Laertes’s friends, Polonius tells Reynaldo he may “put on him what forgeries [he] pleased ­– marry, none so ra…

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…when King Claudius runs scared out of the room, as someone who is guilty of murder. Last, an ironic reversal occurs between young Hamlet and his mother Gertrude. As Hamlet begins closing in on Claudius for murder, He goes to his mother advising her not to go to bed with Claudius and to stay pure. However, even though he told her to stay pure, Hamlet and his mother ended up having sex with each other which was no better than the incest that went on with Claudius and Gertrude. The reversals and recognition of Hamlet are very influential in how the play progresses to conclusion.
Hamlet is a well-written tragedy because of the use of Reversal and Recognition, the bringing about of pity and fear to cause catharsis, and a strong story structure. Just as Batman falls in The Dark Knight, many characters, that start out as appreciated, fall in Hamlet.

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