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Has history been unfair to Gertrude? Discuss with reference to critical interpretations you have read as well as stage and video performances you have seen - Make close reference to the text.

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Introduction

Has history been unfair to Gertrude? Discuss with reference to critical interpretations you have read as well as stage and video performances you have seen. Make close reference to the text. The question, "Has history been unfair to Gertrude," in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' is a complex one. Numerous critics and directors have put forward many different interpretations, meaning that some must be unfair, or all would be correct. Althought minor, the character of Gertrude is essential to the plot. The reason for many of the events happening in the play can all be traced back to her actions. The kings death may have been due to Claudius' love for her. He admits his love and devotion by saying that she is: "My virtue and my plague." And confirms she is at least part of the reason for the murder: "those effects for which I did the murther/ My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen." ...read more.

Middle

The body language at this moment is very important to how the audience sees Gertrude for the rest of the play. As we know first impressions are the most important and this is the audiences first impression of Gertrude. In the Olivier production of 1948 Gertrude is lolling on her throne towards the king. She looks very regal but also very sexual and sensual. They make eye contact when the king says "now our queen" and hold hands in a very sexual way. This first glimpse of Gertrude conflicts Branaghs 1996 version, where the king and queen very informally talk to the court, standing, next to each other in unity. They hold hands, but the appearance is of love not a sexual chemistry. She is presented as very affectionate and warm and she is dressed as a bride, which portrays her as a pure newly wed. As Shakespeare never has many stage directions this is all left to the director on how he films this, meaning it is an excellent way for the director to get his view to the audience at an early stage. ...read more.

Conclusion

I also cannot see any evidence in the text other than Gertrude caring for the wellbeing of Hamlet, and she seems genuinly concerned for him in this scene. The next scene that is so important, possibly the most important of all, is how we interpret Gertrudes actions in the closet scene. Looking at the text it is very hard, without stage directions, to create an accurate production of what is supposed to happen, but on the other hand, it is very easy to suggest exactly what your opinion of Gertrude is through this scene. We can quickly decide whether Gertrude is the sexual, oedipal person that so many believe or the caring mother that others, from how this scene is directed. As the scene itself is set in Gertrudes closet, or bedroom it invites sexuality into the scene. Olivier uses this to full scale with the bed a symbolism of the vagina and the whole scene oozing with sexuality. Gertrude in Oliviers Hamlet is clearly the sexual smutty type and Olivier was greatly influenced by Freuds views on Hamlet as a ...read more.

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