• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine Critically, with reference to language, Hamlet's relationship with his mother Gertrude.

Extracts from this document...


Examine Critically, with reference to language, Hamlet's relationship with his mother Gertrude. The play 'Hamlet' is often classified as one of the most complex plays in the history of Literature. This play, by the greatest of playwrights, William Shakespeare, is regarded as 'a tragedy of the human soul, of which the highest and noblest qualities become under the influence of evil and wickedness in this world, the causes of its own failure and ruin.' Hamlet is chiefly a study of character, rather than a drama of action. 'Hamlet' was written when Shakespeare was in the bitter mood of self-contempt and disgust with experiences of abused sex and human vice that came to him after his tryst with 'The Dark Lady of the Sonnets'. Shakespeare digresses from the original story, 'Amleth' by Saxo Gramatticus, with his introduction of the theme, 'Frailty thy name is woman' and its projection in the two weak female characters of Gertrude and Ophelia. This gives vent to his deep internal conflict and dark hatred of lustful sex and contempt for the two women with whom Shakespeare himself had sinned. Hamlet's relationship with his parents, particularly his mother, is the pivotal point of the play. It is clear, right from the very beginning, that Hamlet has a deep relationship with Gertrude, and loves her and respects her immensely. ...read more.


He seems to forget that she is his mother, who has given birth to him, raised him, and showered him with love. And she deserves a certain degree of respect from her son. However, despite everything, Hamlet's emotional struggles with Human Nature and his shattered illusions, he has not lost love for either of his parents, as reflected in the goals of this scene. When the ghost reappears, Hamlet treats it with respect and humble submission. But, even though he loves his mother, in his heart, he has no respect for her. As he states, "I must be cruel only to be kind". His strong words help express his own feelings of rage, and in addition, help Gertrude realize her sin and lead her towards repentance. After his periods of bitterness, anger and fear he realizes that she finally understands his message about her actions, Claudius, and his own assumed madness. His tone then changes from one of bitterness and rage to one of almost priestly counsel as he explains to her how to remedy the situation. Gertrude is described as a frail character, which lacks feeling. She is of an insensitive nature, not likely to be troubled by guilt. A placid nature, even stolid, she cannot rise high. ...read more.


His conscience does not permit him to kill Claudius without being sure that Claudius is responsible for King Hamlet's regicide. So he waits to kill Claudius only after he is sure Claudius is guilty, after the play-within-the-play. Shakespeare also employs several motifs to enrich the theme of morality. One of these is sickness and disease. He compares Gertrude's sin to a disease or ulcer, which will subtly rot her soul if she ignores it. As he says "will but skin and film the ulcerous place, While ranks corruption, mining all within, infects unseen". A similar motif is the image of the "unweeded garden" in his first soliloquy. Hamlet sees the world, filled with sinful people as an unweeded garden. The connections with Denmark being corrupted and diseased are metaphorical for Gertrude's relationship with Claudius, incestuous and corrupted. Hamlet is the most realistic character Shakespeare ever created. His relationship with his mother was extremely natural, in the fact that it experienced certain abnormalities, as in the case of all relationships. Their love for each other is painful, but ultimately helps them grow as people and fulfill their obligations- Hamlet's duty to avenge his father's death and Gertrude's duty to repent and try to protect her son from himself and those around him. Hamlet was merely a man, with motives unknown to him, with secret agendas and internal conflicts that remain unresolved. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the "loving mother-son" relationship between Gertrude and Hamlet, with focus on language.

    4 star(s)

    Gertrude lies to herself about the consequences of her actions, and she lies to those around her. But she lies to protect. Hers are not cruel and wicked falsehoods; hers are white lies that she feels she must tell in order to keep her and those around her safe physically and emotionally.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the way Shakespeare presents the relationships between Hamlet and his Mother, Gertrude, making ...

    4 star(s)

    thinks he has the right to talk to her the way he does. "Ay, lady, 'twas my word." Hamlet answers his mothers question harshly, calling her "lady", instead of mother! Hamlets want to control in the scene is immensely obvious.

  1. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    Anyone who's experienced depression knows the feeling. "Quintessence" ("fifth essence"; compare Bruce Willis's "Fifth Element") was an idea from prescientific thought -- a mystical substance that made fire, air, water, and earth work together, and supposedly what the planets and stars were made of. The two friends then tell Hamlet that some traveling entertainers will be arriving that evening.

  2. Free essay

    'Frailty Thy Name is Woman' How does Shakespeare present women and sex in Hamlet?

    the weaker sex therefore easier to persuade, 'To a nunnery, go - and quickly too.' It appears it is not just the male sex who end up seeing women as lesser and as faulty beings, but after how they have been treated, also the women in 'Hamlet' resort to subordinating

  1. A study of madness in Hamlet.

    But in Act 5 Scenes 1, "Let Hercules himself so what he may, The cat will mew and the dog will have his day." Here Hamlet is saying that not even Hercules could stop him from doing what is needed.

  2. Examine Hamlet's Relationship with Gertrude & Ophelia in light of the comment 'Frailty thy ...

    Hamlet's reaction to Ophelia's rejection is extreme and she is 'affrighted' by his state of 'knees knocking each other... with a look so piteous in purport/ As if he had been loosed out of hell'. His bitterness has been exaggerated by the 'antic disposition' that he has adopted since learning

  1. Is Hamlet a man of inaction?

    This is why Hamlet is the perfect lead for Shakespeare's tragedy, here he is saying "what if?" what if someone so unprepared as hamlet was to have to face something like this? Would the fibres of his whole human existence hold up to what he is about to face?

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    - "'twas bitter cold, and they were sick at heart, and not a mouse stirring." The attention to minute sounds, - naturally associated with the recollection of minute objects, and the more familiar and trifling, the more impressive from the unusualness of their producing any impression at all - gives

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work