Monday, November 5, 2012

The weak vs The Strong willed Women

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             Gertrude is introduced in the second scene of the play. She is Hamlet's mother, the widow of The late King Hamlet and now King Claudius's new wife. I do not like her character so far in this play because she does not seem like a strong powerful female role. Gertrude seems more like Lady Anne's character in Richard III than the strong- willed, Queen Elizabeth or Queen Margaret. Both of the Queens in Richard  have a powerful voice and in the nature of the way Richard approaches them. Gertrude does show compassion towards her son, Hamlet. She seems like the type of character that wants to stand up for herself and protect her son, but she is shows as a weaker side. I said she is like Lady Anne's character , because she is being played for a fool. She is being tricked by King Claudius, just like Lady Anne was tricked by Richard.
              She is really dependent, which is sad to me because I love reading about strong independent female characters in Shakespeare. She follows King Claudius around as he orders her to do. I always try to imagine myself in the women's situations in the plays and how I would do things differently when I am reading. 
           I also find that I can use more emotion when I get to write about these strong-willed women who act as a role model for some. I loved reading  Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice is my favorite character because she shows that she is  strong, independent and witty which is a perfect role model when reading these plays.  I haven't read this play in quite a while , but I predict that Gertrude will not become a strong-willed individual in this play. 

4 comments:

Kelsey Maher said...

I agree that Gertrude has shown herself to be dependent on Claudius and her quick marriage suggests that she is dependent on being married and fulfilling that role as a wife, being defined by her husband, the king. I feel as though she tries to convince hamlet to trust Claudius and question why he cannot accept the choices that she has made. She seems to have alienated herself from her son and chosen to align herself completely with Claudius. I agree that she completely follows Claudius around and perhaps he has ordered her to distance herself from her son until Hamlet will accept him as his new replacement father. If she is so completely dependent on Claudius maybe she sees no other option but to obey him in order to protect herself as well as her son.

Christine Richin said...


In making the connection between Gertrude in Hamlet and the women in A Midsummer Night’s Dream I was really thrown off by Shakespeare’s representation of Gertrude. Hippolyta, although not overly present in the play, is the voice for women ruled under the Athenian court. She is represented as a noble figure from the beginning, having honorably lost a battle to Theseus by consenting to be his prize and then she continues to maintain the image of grace for the entirety of the play.
Gertrude on the other hand, does not take her place as queen next to the new king honorably. She just takes it because she does not know what to do with herself when faced with the tragic event of her husband’s death which left the court is in a state of chaos. She is willing to play the role of her brother-in-law’s wife just to maintain an image of royalty. She is submitting herself to whatever dictations are imposed by Claudius just to avoid losing her sense of purpose because without the love of her deceased husband all she has left to hold on to is the hand of the next man to wear the crown.
If anything, I pity Gertrude’s character more than I dislike it. She is so desperate to maintain her honorable status that she does not even realize she is conducting herself dishonorably. The saddest part I think is that she is actually so convinced that she wants this alter-reality that when Claudius finishes his speech to Hamlet trying to dissuade him from returning to Wittenberg she supplements Claudius’ wishes with her own by saying, “Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.” I think part of the reason she does not want Hamlet to leave is because it allows her to maintain the allusion of normalcy. If I were to give Gertrude the benefit of the doubt, I would say she is deeply rooted in her own denial. However, based off the first act alone I would not be surprised to find that she is a weak, powerless figure representing the voice of women.
Maybe this is Shakespeare’s way of differentiating between a court in a Shakespearean tragedy versus that of a comedy.

Nicole Belladone said...

At first I didn't like Gertrude and had a difficult time understanding why she is acting so dependent on Claudius. Now that I read Kelsey's response, it made me think that maybe she is doing this to protect herself and her son. She may seem selfish and weak by immediately making an alliance with Claudius, but maybe she is doing it because she knows if she doesn't he will get rid of both of them as well. In obeying Claudius, Gertrude is playing her cards right and being smart about the situation.

Stacy Carter said...

I had the same opinion as Hannah when I was first reading Gertrude's character, but I find it interesting that the comments have brought up the possibility of the protection of herself and her son to be her motivation. I'm not sure if I agree with that idea yet, but it is interesting to think about, and I wouldn't have thought of the possibility myself. It would make sense, and would definitely make Gertrude more likable. If we knew how strong of a woman she was before her husband died, then it would be easier to figure out her real intentions with Claudius.
What I question though is why she would push Hamlet away. This far, I cannot see what this would actually do to protect her son, because I'm not sure if Gertrude even knows the evil behind Claudius's true character. It will be interesting to find out.