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Act 3 Scene 4 Of William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1780 words - 7 pages

Act 3 Scene 4 of William Shakespeare's Hamlet

It is tempting to condemn Gertrude as evil, but it is probably more
sensible to consider her as weak and inconstant. But when have tragedy
plays ever been sensible? Like many of Shakespeare's women it is
argued that their characters are somewhat "sketched in" rather than
drawn in with detail like for example, Hamlet's. The way Shakespeare
has "sketched in" Gertrude's character leads an awful lot down to the
way she is played on the stage. When reading the play Gertrude's
character is enigmatic. This leads a lot down to personal
interpretation upon reading the play. We also have to take the culture
of that period in time into consideration when examining Gertrude's
character. Act 3 scene 4 emphasises this showing us two separate
arguments for the portrayal of Gertrude's character.

An interpretation that I would like to explore is Gertrude as an evil
character in the play. There are several significant points that
illuminate the evil side to her character. A lot of people consider
Gertrude as frail and weak, highlighted by Hamlet's heartfelt line. "Frailty,
thy name is woman" but there are several tell tale signs to draw her
character towards the centrally evil figure in Hamlet. The most
obvious being her incestuous marriage to Claudius. Surely she must
take into consideration the consequences of her actions and therefore
this shows us Gertrude's ice-cold nature. Even going as far as wanting
to marry to stay in a position of power? Once Gertrude has tasted the
lavish life of a queen is it possible that she can go back to not
being a royal? The marriage shows us that she is completely selfish
and emotionless. In Victorian times mourning would go on for months
possibly even years. The Victorian society was very familiar with
death and it was a large part of their culture. Gertrude waited a
whole month before announcing her love for Claudius. There are even
suggestions that Gertrude was unfaithful to Old Hamlet with Claudius,
she was probably quite lonely being married to Hamlet senior, seeing
as he was always off at war…who else to warm the royal bed than the
charismatic Claudius? This links her to the death of Claudius and
weather she had a hand in it. Looking at the evidence we seriously
have to ask, how can Gertrude not know about the details of her
husband's death when so heavily involved with Claudius and the palace?

One of her greatest weapons is her power of deceitfulness. In act 3
scene 4 Gertrude supposedly finds out about the murder of Old Hamlet.
She seems shocked and flabbergasted about the event but in control of
her emotions. In the heated exchanges between the two Gertrude shows
Hamlet how supposedly innocent she is and vulnerable to the evil of
Claudius. Hamlet's tone moves from the bitterly accusatory, "kill a
...

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