Hamlet Misogyny Thesis

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Gertrude’s suffering at these revelations is genuine; her repeated requests for ‘sweet Hamlet’ (3.4.88) to ‘speak to me no more’ (3.4.86) belie the shame that she now feels.

Her reaction is such that even the Ghost, a previous critic, observes that ‘amazement on thy mother sits’ (3.4.104) and warns Hamlet not to distress her further.

Her close relationships to the central male characters mean that she is a key figure within the narrative.

King Hamlet’s death and Gertrude’s wedding to Claudius happen immediately prior to the opening of the play.

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For further information, including about cookie settings, please read our Cookie Policy .The pivotal and revelatory closet scene of Act 3, Scene 4 is the first and only instance in which Hamlet and Gertrude are alone together on stage.It is the intensity of their interaction, as well as the shock of Polonius’s assassination and Hamlet’s subsequent accusations of murder and incest, which begin to reveal the emotional depths of Gertrude’s character: The knowledge that her first husband, King Hamlet, was murdered by Claudius causes Gertrude to experience a moral awakening: what was once an ethical grey area (her ‘o’erhasty marriage’) has become a ‘black and grainèd spot’ upon her very soul.Gertrude’s role has traditionally been seen as passive, with critics often discounting the few, short, speeches she makes as merely the reflection of her male counterparts’ thoughts and opinions.Yet upon closer analysis, her speech proves to be invariably direct, insightful and innuendo-free.In this passage Gertrude swears on her life to keep Hamlet’s sanity a secret, and to keep her own knowledge of her first husband’s murder a secret from her second husband – his murderer.The intimacy forged between the two characters in this scene paves the way for the tragic finale of the play, and Gertrude’s role within it.Not only is Gertrude a key figure in the events which inspire and compel Hamlet’s quest for revenge, but she is also instrumental in the actualisation of that revenge.Though her character can be seen as passive for the first part of the play, it is in Act 5, Scene 2 that she fully realises her dramatic potential. I am poisoned’ (5.2.264), and in so doing identifies Claudius as her killer.Gertrude often anticipates, or correctly identifies, key moments, themes, or implications within the play as a whole.Her clipped instruction to Polonius to speak ‘[m]ore matter with less art’ (2.2.96) identifies Polonius as a pretentious, rambling old fool while at the same time asserting her authority and intelligence – all of which is accomplished in a poetic heartbeat.


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