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

Evaluate how the portrayal of Gertrude and Ophelia could be influenced by the sources available to Shakespeare.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Evaluate how the portrayal of Gertrude and Ophelia could be influenced by the sources available to Shakespeare. In this day and age, for a play to be plausible and enjoyable, women have to be included substantially in the plot. Our society is no longer patriarchal or male driven, but in the Elizabethan era things were different. The role of women was radically changing as the public were beginning to realise the power of Elizabeth I and this directly affected English Literature which had began to also focus on women. Yet Shakespeare gave small and insignificant roles to Gertrude and Ophelia in Hamlet. As said by Judith Cook, they appear to be 'somewhat spiritless creatures' when likened to the major greats of Shakespearian theatre like Lady Macbeth, Cleopatra, Portia and Rosalind who at times show great strength of character and independence of spirit. However, it is quite certain from his plays that had Shakespeare wanted Gertrude and Ophelia to be more important in 'Hamlet', he would have given them much more substance and much more dialogue. However, for a modern director, it is important to understand what role Gertrude and Ophelia play; although Shakespeare may not have wanted them to be the protagonists, they are still essential to the plot. ...read more.

Middle

Her sexuality is again demonstrated in the closet scene. Barbara Jefford, who played Gertrude at the National Theatre said, 'I think that she is very, very sexy who desperately needs it and finds Claudius extremely attractive. Did she know about the murder? I think she did, yes...I don't think you could live in an enclosed atmosphere like the Danish court and not know there was something strange about it!' However, although many of the sources do tend to imply that Gertrude may have known about the King Hamlet's murder, Shakespeare refrains on revealing his own ideas about it. There is only one sentence in the whole of Hamlet that could possibly incriminate Gertrude and that is when the ghost calls Gertrude his 'most seeming-virtuous queen.' Although the ghost prohibits Hamlet from harming his mother, all of the ghost's anger and hatred seems to be directed at his wife as he urges Hamlet to let 'those thorns that in her bosom lodge, To prick and sting her. However, these lines are vague and it could be argued that King Hamlet says those words, as he is angry that Gertrude married in such great haste after his own death. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the inquest it was revealed that Katherine Hamlet had indeed been jilted by a lover and was pregnant when she drowned. Thus it is possible that Ophelia had been mistress to Hamlet as is in the case in all the sources. The original stories of Hamlet can give rise to different understandings and often contradicting interpretations of Gertrude and Ophelia, but the answer to their characters is hard to find. One thing that cannot be forgotten is that Hamlet is a play. It is one of those stories that each age interprets anew. It has been acted in many different ways and all of them seem to work. Each account and source assumes new life for each generation and offers different interpretations for different actors and producers. Word count :1406 Miss Walker, This is my first draft of the essay and I'm not sure if it's all right. The essay title may need a few changes and please tell me if I have to write more about language or if I need more quotes. I'm also not sure if I have set up my quotations correctly or if I have to underline a play when talking about it. If the essay is unsuitable I can completely change it if you think so. Thankyou Shruti ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Hamlet essays

  1. Ophelia Essay

    She tells him that Hamlet came into her room as she was sewing and that he was acting very strangely. Why has she told her father? Is it because she feels afraid of what Hamlet might do to her and her family or is it because she wants to protect

  2. With reference to key lines and speeches in the play, discuss interpretations of the ...

    The reading that Gertrude was an adulteress would also have made her a much more important character in the play, perhaps assisting Claudius in the murder of King Hamlet, making her the villianess to Claudius' villain. During the play, Claudius does not refer to her as his accomplice, nor does

  1. Shakespeare has written Ophelia as the prominent female in the play. Is this because ...

    That she needs to weigh up the pro's and con's of a relationship. Ophelia has widened our view of Laertes by showing us his feelings and emotions. In the play we are not told about the life of Ophelia's and Laertes' mother.

  2. How are the tensions which were a part of Elizabethan society shown through Shakespeare's ...

    Hamlet has become so distant from life since his father's death that he resorts to internal 'meditation' when committed to the burdensome act of enacting vengeance on his uncle, which goes against his deepest principles, leading to his outcry, 'O cursed spite, That I was ever born to set it right!'

  1. Hamlet - looking at the history of the play, the genre, Shakespeare himself and ...

    Shakespeare is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in his hometown of Stratford, Warwickshire. His gravestone bears an epitaph which Shakespeare himself supposedly wrote. It warns: "Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here.

  2. The Count of Monte Cristo.

    whose attempt to dig his way to his salvation had led him only to Edmond's cell. The two meet daily and an incredible relationship flourished. The old man taught Edmond history, mathematics, and languages. In Edmond's fourteenth year, Faria became mortally ill.

  1. Hamlet is a well-known tragedy written by William Shakespeare in the year 1600.

    Claudius, as it clearly states here "A little month, ere those shoes were old which with me she followed my poor fathers body". Hamlet then says how the queen hi mother is not very loyal, and is stating that that the tears she was shedding when her husband's funeral was underway were meaningless.

  2. “The relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia is doomed to failure because they are ...

    Shakespeare's suggestion of madness in the character of Hamlet is seemingly brought about by his indulgence in his grief for his father, and the sudden marriage of his mother, as well as Ophelia's behaviour towards him. It is difficult to know if Hamlet is actually mad or if it is an act to intelligently deceive those around him.

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