William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of the most known tragedies in the English literature, while Hamlet himself is an illustrative example of a turbulent mind. His inner thoughts and his attitude towards his father is often at the center of the discussion, but his relationship with Gertrude, his mother, is also worth researchers’ attention. This paper includes a brief analysis of the relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude with its complexity and ambiguity.
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Hamlet’s most intense feelings associated with his mother are resentment and even disgust. Hamlet exclaims that his mother married with “most wicked speed, to post / With such dexterity to incestuous sheets” (Shakespeare 17). The prince cannot forgive his mother as she married within a month after her husband’s death. The son does not keep silence for a long time and starts accusing his mother. Hamlet’s focus on the sensual aspect of her marriage shows his complex feelings regarding his mother. On the one hand, he shows his disrespect as he makes his mother seem a senseless and frail creature who is worse than “a beast, that wants discourse of reason” (Shakespeare 17). On the other hand, this focus on sensuality unveils his deep affection and connection with his mother. He truly loves his mother but is enraged with her marrying another man. Oedipus complex can be seen as an explanation of this attitude towards his mother. Hamlet is jealous as he wants his mother to love him exclusively. He could tolerate her feelings for his father, but he saw her new marriage as a betrayal of his father and himself.
It is noteworthy that Gertrude does not really try to protect herself or make her son be more respectful but only begs him to be less cruel. She asks him to spare her feelings, “O, speak to me no more! / These words like daggers enter in mine ears” (Shakespeare 98). The queen tries to soothe her child and make him feel better with her kindness and gentle words such as “sweet Hamlet” (Shakespeare 95). The woman is torn between her role as a wife and her role as a mother. Shakespeare does not reveal Gertrude’s true thoughts and feelings, but it is clear that she remains a good mother who wants all the best for her child. She keeps protecting him although he is a man who accuses her of very serious crimes. Gertrude simply attempts to make her son go through his loss, but she fails to do it successfully. The woman is genuinely upset and horrified as he sees that her son is losing his sanity. However, she is unable to save him from himself, and this mistake has a very high price for her as she eventually loses her son.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that the relationship between Hamlet and his mother is characterized by complexity and certain ambiguity. Gertrude’s true feelings are not completely clear, but her maternal love is obvious. The woman tried to protect her son and help him cope with his distress. Hamlet’s feelings are quite controversial as he loves his mother while being disrespectful. His love and attachment are rather insecure, which makes him jealous and fixed on the sensual aspect of his mother’s married life. Hamlet and Gertrude fail to resolve the conflict in their relationships, and this failure is one of the reasons for the sad ending of the tragedy.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hackett Publishing, 2015.