oddersockrocker (oddersockrocker) wrote in classiclit,


I had a quick poke online and the few discussions of Gertrude's character I found completely unsatisfactory. Most of the portrayals of her are of this narcissistic, petty woman with no brain. For instance, I found this :
It is sad but fitting that Gertrude meet her end drinking from the poisoned goblet, demanding that she taste what is in the pretty cup, as trusting as a new-born babe.

For those of you familiar with the play, can I just ask whether this fits in with your opinion of Gertrude? Personally, I saw her drinking as kind of a mark of her doing something on her own - that she couldn't see any reason why not to drink the wine, and basically in drinking it said "you can't just order me around, I have a mind of my own". Irony and all that in how it all ends, but the act itself wasn't the act of some halfwit going "Nooo, the cup is so PRETTY".

Personally, I found the character of Gertrude very endearing. Although one still wonders why the hell she remarried so soon, she clearly has no knowledge of her husband's murder being at the hands of her new husband, and it seemed to me that she found a new husband who she very much loves while managing to maintain her powerful position completely, even though, if it be taken that Hamlet is thirty-ish, she is well past what would have been considered her "prime". One can consider that even though she may be pretty she's probably not getting by on just her looks, so she has some quality that ranks her in both King Hamlet and Claudius' top three things "My life, my throne, my love" and from Claudius, "My throne, my ambition and my queen" (to paraphrase).

Another thing I love about her is her own love of Ophelia. Although Polonius suggests that their social standing is not particulary high enough to make Ophelia be considered for a wife to Hamlet, Gertrude seems to think upon her fondly, even saying "I had hoped you would be my Hamlet's wife". This seems to say that she recognised their love as more important than social standing.

So, what do you think? I'm curious after reading such a different take on this character!
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