Gertrude: A Portrait of Conflicting Loyalties
Women living in Elizabethan times, although more liberated than medieval women, were still expected to do their husband's will and obey at all times. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Queen Gertrude begins the play acting as a typical Elizabethan woman. She sits beside her new husband, Claudius, and reiterates each statement he makes. Further into the play, persuaded by Hamlet, Gertrude begins to question her quick remarriage. As she finally learns the truth of Claudius's betrayal, she breaks free from his hold and warns Hamlet of the poisoned cup. Shakespeare's character Gertrude shows emotional growth, from her dependency on Claudius, to questioning her actions, to her betrayal of Claudius in a futile attempt to save her son, Hamlet.
Gertrude begins the play supporting Claudius and backing up his every word. As the deceased King's widow, she possesses more authority than Claudius, but she chooses not to exercise that authority. As the newly crowned Claudius first speaks to Hamlet, he begins by praising him, but then reprimands him for mourning the King's death for too long. "'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet... 'Tis unmanly grief" (1.2.90-98). After Claudius's...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 810 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5995 literature essays, 1692 sample college application essays, 237 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in