This essay is going to discuss the works of Shakespeare's Hamlet and John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius.
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This essay is going to discuss the works of Shakespeare's Hamlet and John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius. It will look to compare and contrast certain aspects of each book in relation to each other. Some central characters in each book will be looked at and how they are similar in each book, along with the views that would lead you to believe that Gertrude and Claudius are truly in love or just lusting over each other. The ghost in each writing will be looked at to see if they relate to each other or not and the character of Polonius will be examined in each of the two works. Also some foreshadowing from Gertrude and Claudius on to Hamlet will be addressed. Shakespeare's Hamlet has a lot to do with the character of Hamlet himself, as he is the central character in the play. It starts off with the introduction of a ghost who turns out to be in the image of Hamlets murdered father, Old Hamlet. This Ghost plays a vital role in the play because it is the ghost that enduces Hamlet to get revenge for his father murder. In this first act we are introduced to basically all the main characters. We learn that Hamlets mother, Gertrude the queen, is no married to Hamlets uncle, now the King, Claudius.
This ghost is Old Hamlets father Gerwindil who Feng felt was watching him: "The ghost of their father, Gerwindil, watched" (Updike 77). But we also get the ghost of Old Hamlet in Gertrude and Claudius, with Claudius saying they must sneak around as is if the ghost of her dead husband was watching: "...as if your husbands' ghost keeps jealous guard over your virtue" (Updike 168). This is true because it turns out that the ghost is watching over them and he does somewhat confront Gertrude which kind of confused her because she says "The blessed dead do not haunt the living; only the damned do, tied to the living fallen, and her late husband had been a model of virtue and a very pattern of kingship" (Updike 195). This is the ghost trying to convey a message to the queen by making his presence felt because this would imply that something was not right because if he died properly then he would mot be damned to haunt. Both the ghosts are out to carry a message to the living. Both ghosts are, "...banished by the sunlight that flooded the great hall" (Updike 203), meaning that this ghost can't be around in the day just like the Hamlet ghost who leaves when the crows alert him of the coming morning.
but it will: "...smaller female who darted out the open window and waited, singing her song on the bent branch of a fresh leafed willow, for her mate to join her" (Updike 28). The waiting of the bird could also suggest the waiting of Ophelia for Hamlet. All in all I thought the two books complemented each other very well, except for the ending of Gertrude and Claudius. The ending made it out to be that everything turned out great for everyone. Claudius, Gertrude, Hamlet, Ophelia, Laertes all never died and that Hamlet took over the throne along with Ophelia. I didn't quite understand why Updike decided to make his ending like that. The story of Gertrude and Claudius and how they got together really shined a light onto their story and characters in Hamlet. It gave us a much needed background into the underlying story behind Old Hamlets murder. It was kind of confusing at first when reading Gertrude and Claudius to get used to the name changes at the first of the book and each following part but all in all it was an enjoyable read. The carry over of the ghost from one story to the other was very well done and Updikes book was quite graphic in its sexual innuendo which caught me off guard at first, but the whole book was very well written. 2
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