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

Explore the way Shakespeare presents the relationships between Hamlet and his Mother, Gertrude, making particular reference to Act III Scene. IV

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Explore the way Shakespeare presents the relationships between Hamlet and his Mother, Gertrude, making particular reference to Act III Scene. IV In the Play, the relationship between Hamlet and his mother is presented in various different ways. One critical point in the play where their presentation can be fully analysed is Scene IV, of Act III. The 'closet scene' as it is known, is one of the dramatic climaxes of the play. It is the only time we see Hamlet alone with his mother. Apart from a brief exchange during 'the Mousetrap' this is the first conversation since Act 1 Scene II. The scene begins as a repeat of the 'nunnery' episode (Act III Scene I) with Polonius eavesdropping and Gertrude refusing to communicate with her son. Again, as before, with the exception of Ophelia, Hamlet is now talking to somebody with whom he was once very close, but has now been deliberately separated from. Hamlet enters the scene with great antagonism, as he has just returned from Claudius praying, Gertrude's Husband and Hamlet's stepfather, and of course his Uncle. Hamlet's intentions were to kill Claudius as he prayed, so his intentions when entering this scene are not much different than before. His wrath towards Claudius is still at its worst, so Hamlet is prepared to kill him at any chance, thus he kills Polonius instead. The place in which this scene is situated is very important to the build up of the tension and also to how they are both presented. ...read more.

Middle

It seems that this scene could take place on Gertrude's "enseamed bed", although there are no stage directions to say this is true. Hamlet says, "My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time". This phrase can have two meanings. Primarily, 'pulse' meaning that they are blood related, but also that as a pair, they are so close their hearts beat together. The 'Oedipus Complex' explores sons having a desire to sleep with their mother, consciously or subconsciously. Whether this is true for Hamlet is hard to say, as we have to look at him as a character. Without this scene, it would seem unlikely that Shakespeare had any intentions of suggesting an Oedipal relationship between Hamlet and his mother. Over many years there has been wide debate over the subject of Hamlet and his 'Oedipus Complex'. We must remember that Hamlet is just a character of a play. The significance of this scene being set in the queens 'bedroom' is very important, as Hamlet makes many references to beds in the scene: "In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed / Stew'd", meaning sweaty and semen-stained, like a prostitutes bed. This sexual language implies that Hamlet could well be talking to a future lover, when it is in fact his own mother. 'Bedrooms' are private, and conventionally places of sexual activity, so Shakespeare may well have deliberately presented the two on the bed, or in the bedroom, to suggest their sexual relationship. There are other possibilities that this scene was set in her bedroom. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, Hamlet idolised his father to an extent where he wanted to be his father, maybe in terms of power, and the possession of his mother, Gertrude. Hamlets inability to have a successful relationship with Ophelia, his girlfriend, could be a problem created through his supposed lust for his mother. He treats Ophelia with little respect, and subjects her to loathsome verbal abuse, bursting with sexual innuendo. "That's a fair thought to lie between a maids legs". In the mousetrap scene, Hamlet talks to Ophelia in this way to appear mad. But not only this, Hamlet carries on to show his immature attitudes towards love when he banters to Rosencratz and Guildenstern. "here's metal more attractive". Because of this male, adolescent type behaviour, it seems that Hamlet is not ready for love, and he cannot accept Ophelia's mature feelings that she has for him, thus their relationship is unstable. Shakespeare had obviously chosen to present the relationship between Hamlet and his mother with deliberate abnormalities. The aspects from the Oedipus complex and incest are interesting. There seems to be many connections with Denmark being corrupted and diseased, and maybe this is metaphorical for the mother and son's relationship, incestuous and corrupted. Also, Claudius's and Gertrude's relationship is the same, although at the time it wouldn't have been that abnormal for a King to marry his brother's wife, especially in Royal families. It was all about keeping money in the family, or keeping a bond, or peace with other relatives. In this case however, and what makes the relationship corrupt is the fact that Claudius killed his own brother. And to Hamlet, Claudius has not only usurped his father's crown, but also his mother's bed. ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

**** 4 STARS

This is an excellent essay which shows insight when discussing the main theme of the play which is the complex relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude. There is some excellent close analysis of language and the writer offers their own opinions and alternative readings.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 16/07/2013

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)

    This act of treachery by Gertrude, whom Hamlet obviously loved greatly at one time, breaks the very foundation of Hamlet's being, and he tortures himself with memories of his late father's tenderness towards his mother: So excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Explore how Shakespeare examines the theme of revenge in Hamlet.

    3 star(s)

    Hamlet is disgusted at the behaviour of both Claudius and his mother, Gertrude and sets out to find the truth. Act III, scene ii and scene iii really start to enact the theme of revenge. A band of players comes to the palace and Hamlet asks them to play The

  1. How does Shakespeare present aspects of love in Hamlet?

    One of the strongest relationships that is obvious to us if the platonic love of friendship and loyalty that is shared between Hamlet and Horatio. While emotions and relationships are constantly changing in the play, this is the only bond that remains untouched and unchallenged; at the end of the play Hamlet still considers him to be 'family'.

  2. Appearance vs. Reality in Hamlet.

    Claudius justifies his prayers by saying, "Of those effects for which I did the murder- my crown, mine own ambition, and my queen." (3, 3, 57-58) It is then that Claudius comes to the realization that he appears to want forgiveness but on the inside he can't give up the position he now holds.

  1. Compare and contrast the approaches of Hamlet and Laertes to revenge

    Laertes does not in the slightest entertain these views. "When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, /must give us pause. There's the respect/ That makes calamity of so long life." (Hamlet Act iii Scene I) It is almost as if Hamlet needs something to continually set off a trigger

  2. Compare and Contrast theCharacters Hamlet and Laertes.

    Hamlet, before leaving gives his mother some advise, to not sleep with his uncle and not let on that she knows that Hamlet is acting: "But go not to my uncle's bed..." Laertes doesn't show great feelings during the play towards his father, however we know he does love his father, as he so badly wanted to avenge him.

  1. Critical review of 'Hamlet'

    His Mother has recently remarried to his uncle who he knows murdered his Father. He feels great resentment towards the new King, Claudius. While talking to Horatio, who acts as a sounding board for Hamlet, in act one scene two he asks of his 'affair in Elsinore?'

  2. The Dramatic Function of Ophelia in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.

    the implication is that the girl in the song has lost her virginity. I do not think that in singing this Opelia refers to herself, but that her madness grants her freedom to express what she was unable to discuss before, her deep love and desire for Hamlet.

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