Shakespeare’s sinful woman in the tragedy Hamlet is named Gertrude. Wife of Claudius and mother of the prince, she is not selected by the ghost for vengeance by the protagonist. Let’s consider her story in this essay.
There is no doubt that Gertrude is a sinner in this play. In her book, Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes, Lily B. Campbell describes the extent of Gertrude’s sin and of her punishment:
And of the Queen’s punishment as it goes on throughout the play, there can be no doubt either. Her love for Hamlet, her grief, the woes that come so fast that one treads upon the heel of another, her consciousness of wrong-doing, her final dismay are those also of one whose soul has become alienated from God by sin.(146)
Courtney Lehmann and Lisa S. Starks in “Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of ‘Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet,” comment on the contamination of the queen in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
Hamlet, a play that centres on the crisis of the masculine subject and its “radical confrontation with the sexualized maternal body,” foregrounds male anxiety about mothers, female sexuality, and hence, sexuality itself. Obsessed with the corruption of the flesh, Hamlet is pathologically fixated on questions of his own origin and destination — questions which are activated by his irrepressible attraction to and disgust with the “contaminated” body of his mother. (1)
At the outset of the drama, Hamlet’s mother is apparently disturbed by her son’s appearance in solemn black at the gathering of the court, and she requests of him:
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thi…
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Campbell, Lily B. Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc, 1970.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets. London : George Bell and Sons, 1904. p. 342-368. http://ds.dial.pipex.com/thomas_larque/ham1-col.htm
Jorgensen, Paul A. “Hamlet.” William Shakespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publ., 1985. N. pag. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/jorg-hamlet.html
Lehmann, Courtney and Lisa S. Starks. “Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of ‘Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet.” Early Modern Literary Studies 6.1 (May, 2000): 2.1-24 .
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos.
Melancholy in Hamlet
Melancholy in Hamlet
Melancholy has caused many to look down on the world and themselves, driving themselves to suicide or treating their life like it has no meaning. Hamlet is a lonely and melancholic soul who doesn’t think highly of women or his own life. Melancholy forms the basis of Hamlet’s character starting with the moment he arrives in Denmark and hitting a low note when Ophelia dies. Thoughts of suicide loomed throughout the play commencing with the news of old Hamlet’s death and showing in his “To be or not to be” soliloquy. Throughout the entire play, Hamlet has various opinions and views, which show how he disrespects women, especially the one he should love the most, his mother. All of these character traits of Hamlet are well described by Shakespeare in every line spoken by Hamlet. These traits show the reader who the real Hamlet is, during the time that hamlet himself does now know who he is.
Melancholy is the first emotion we see in Hamlet. Upon his arrival in Denmark, Hamlet receives the tragic news that his father died. When he arrives, he realises that Denmark has changed in a way that doesn’t please him. ” ‘Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely,” (I; ii; 135-137), is a reference to the changed Denmark that Hamlet has grown unfamiliar to. Melancholy is also evident when he realises that Ophelia has died. When Hamlet says ” Woo’t weep? Woo’t fight? Woo’t fast? Woo’t tear thyself? Woo’t drink up esill? Eat a crocodile? I’ll do’t. Dost thou come here to whine? To outface me with leaping in her grave? ” (V; I; 252-254), he means he would do anything to be with the woman he loves at that moment, and would ‘be buried quick with her’ (V; I; 255…
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…rs and is not afraid to say what is on his mind.
Although many have turned on the world, Hamlet is not one to give up without a fight. Hamlet indeed does have a lonely and melancholic soul, which makes him contemplate suicide and causes him to lash out at the opposite sex. Hamlet’s sadness is evident as he arrives in Denmark as well appearing when his true love, Ophelia, dies. Suicide is on his mind when situations do not go his way. Disrespecting his mother is apparent when Hamlet speaks his mind about his mother’s marriage. Hamlet has a way of mixing up his attributes with his flaws, causing himself to be indecisive about his life. He was also envious of others, when he was the one other’s could have envied. The play taught the readers that they should fight for what they believe in and not to give up until they have achieved their ultimate goal.