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

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Ramya Sr. 4 D Q. Explore the "loving mother-son" relationship between Gertrude and Hamlet, with focus on language. Ans. Very evident in Hamlet is the "loving mother-son" relationship between Queen Gertrude and Prince Hamlet. Their mutual affection for each other can be seen right from the first act when they address each other as "Good Hamlet" and "good mother". This seems rather polite and formal but shows their deep underlying love for each other. However as the play progresses and Hamlet learns through the ghost of his father the truth about his uncle (whom his mother has married), the actual intensity of the mother-son relationship is brought out. This happens as Hamlet learns of his father's murder. Our first impression of Hamlet sets the tone for the whole play. Even without Shakespeare providing an elaborate description of Hamlet's features, we can imagine his pale face, tousled hair, intense, brooding eyes. Dressed totally in black, Hamlet displays all the 'forms, moods and shapes of grief'. His speech is punctuated with harsh sounding words and he repeats the 'd' sound often with words like " dead, sullied, windy, dejected, denote". This shows his extreme despair. Gertrude, as his mother, cannot help but notice Hamlet's outward appearance of mourning, but Hamlet makes it clear that the outward signs of grief do not come close to conveying how much sorrow he feels inside: For they are the ...read more.


In this scene Hamlet throws his mother onto her bed and insists on condemning her marriage to Claudius, "Nay, but to live in the rank sweat of an esteamed bed, Stew's in corruption, honeying and making love Over the nasty sty!"(3.4.92) Obviously his comments are very painful toward her, yet Shakespeare has Hamlet continue to insult her. In Shakespeare's day, perhaps he viewed the love between a mother and son to be strong and everlasting. So maybe he just wanted to give the image as to what can happen if things were somewhat distorted. Here, Hamlet releases all the pent up emotion that he had been hiding beneath his assumed 'antic disposition'. We also see many elements of Getrude's character, and may end up feeling some sympathy for her, as Hamlet viciously berates her for her betrayal of his father. At first, Gertrude takes on a formal and conventionally matriarchal tone with Hamlet, reprimanding him for his disrespectful behaviour towards Claudius. She says 'Hamlet, you have thy father much offended'. However, Hamlet immediately takes control of the conversation and makes clear that he will not accept being scolded by his mother when the crimes she has committed are far more serious. He cruelly mimics her words saying 'mother you have my father much offended'. ...read more.


Gertrude chose a brother-in-law over a dead Hamlet; Ophelia chooses a father over a living Hamlet. Gertrude wanted to use Ophelia's love to bring her son out of madness, showing her motherly characteristics. Ophelia's madness and eventual death came as a result of the pressure and control the king and her father had over her. Upon learning of Ophelia's death, Gertrude seems to be in a state of confusion over the loss of this innocent girl and she mourns the loss of her son's beloved. Here again her motherly, warm and tender nature is brought out. On the whole the relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude is one of intense love. Gertrude though shallow and easily carried away, displays generous affection, warmth and concern for Hamlet. She ultimately died, drinking from the poisoned cup meant for him. Unknowingly she extended Hamlet's life by a few more minutes, enough for him to kill Claudius and Laertes. The deep love of Hamlet for his mother is made very clear to us. It is because his feelings for her are so strong that he feels so betrayed by his mother's deeds. I think Hamlet and Gertrude do share a loving mother-son relationship and the use of a lot of alliteration and vivid imagery, which highlights underlying meanings, brings this out very well. . ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

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This is a very good essay which loses marks as it strays from the main focus of the question by going into too much detail about other parent/child relationships instead of concentrating on Gertrude and Hamlet for its entirety.
Good language analysis, perceptive comments and generally statements are well supported by quotes

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 16/07/2013

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