Essay, Research Paper
When reading Hamlet it becomes clear right from the beginning that Hamlet has a deep relationship with his mother, Gertrude, because he loves and respects her so much. In the opening scene we can see Hamlet and Gertrude engaged in tender, loving behaviour. But as the play develops we see this relationship suffer some great dents.
Gertrude’s role in Hamlet is to show us how Hamlets insanity develops, her actions are a big part of what drives Hamlet mad. Because when she marries his uncle so soon after his fathers death Hamlet feels she is acting in such a betraying way that he is almost incapable of forgiving her. He has difficulties in coping with his fathers sudden death and to see his mother kiss and cuddle her new treacherous husband almost drives Hamlet over the edge.
Hamlet, not wanting to offend his mother by telling her about his disapproval, hides his true feelings about the marriage. His disapproval then grows into hatred and is not let out until Hamlet approaches his mother boldly by taunting her after the play about Gonzago’s murder. A behaviour never shown by Hamlet before. The queen is of course very upset by this behaviour but somehow she sees beyond it and starts treating Hamlet kind of normal after that. Hamlet having finally vented his disapproval and grief, feels some kind of peace. Finally accepting the fact that the ghost made so clear in the beginning, that his mother was not involved in his fathers death and therefore he forgives her.
The final scene where Hamlets mother dies because of a poison meant for Hamlet, he is so overcome with grief as he watches her die that he finally finds the strength to kill the king and take revenge for the death of his father.
So Gertrude is an important key to show how Hamlets feelings developed throughout the play and how her love can bring him finally to do what he was supposed to do. And yet because of his mother Hamlet mistrusts women in general and treats them as vile and untrustworthy creatures.
Ophelia, Hamlet’s true love, is doomed in her relationship from the moment Hamlet takes on the task of revenge. She is unknowingly used in the plot against Hamlet by her father and brother who are supposed to protect her but instead they use her and therefore open a way for Hamlets hate and disappointment to direct at her. As he thinks that she has betrayed him just like he thought his mother had done, although she did so unwillingly.
To understand Hamlets treatment of Ophelia its essential to look at Hamlets hatred towards his mother. Because of his mothers marriage to his uncle, Hamlet is scarred for life in his relationship towards women. When Hamlet comes to Ophelia at her bedroom, acting all “love” mad, he gets his confirmation (in his opinion) that all women are treacherous and can not be trusted.
But Ophelia is also important to give us insight into Hamlets behaviour towards everyone else. She is just a na?ve, innocent young girl who doesn’t really understand how to help her lover.
“If she had been an Imogen, a Cordelia, even a Porita or a Juliet, the story must have taken another shape. Hamlet would either have been stimulated to do his duty, or (which is more likely) he would have gone mad, or (which is likeliest) he would have killed himself in despair.” (Dawson.IV,135)
She makes it possible for us to get more insight in Hamlets mind. How Hamlet can’t develope his love and forgiveness. She is one of the reasons that these eight persons die in the play, although her participation in the main plot against Hamlet is not voluntary. So if Hamlet would have had a “stronger” woman to support him, this play would have developed in a completely different way.
Probably even ended in a “good” way but that would be taking the whole meaning of this play away wouldn’t it?