The curious case of gertrudes suicide in hamlet

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The curious case of gertrudes suicide in hamlet

And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of. It is Hamlet who utters the pregnant line: His thought is entirely upon the assassination and its effects — crown, ambition, queen — but it does not occur to him when he searches his heart, that his marriage is an incestuous one.

If he considered it such, it would be difficult not to think that his heart would be as chilled by the thought of so awful a crime. There is still another factor which must be taken into account. Beyond a certain point in tragedy, horror may not go.

AP English Language and Composition (College Board)

Now there are horrors enough in Hamlet without the addition of incest. Adultery and assassination usher it in, a ghost begins it, there are one case of real insanity and one of supposed insanity, we have one case of suicide, one of attempted assassination, one of riot and attempted assassination, two instances of avowed revenge, two murders off stage, and five deaths on the stage, four of which occur with in five minutes of one another, and the whole ends with the conquest of the country by a foreign army.

Even for an Elizabethan play this is a good deal. To suppose that Shakespeare intended to add to this accumulation of violence, horror's crown of horror - incest — is to suppose him lacking in sound dramatic sense. What, then, is our way out of the difficulty?

We may suppose simply that the church sanctioned the marriage. Father Blackmore states that canon law "prohibited one from marrying his deceased brother's wife without a dispensation.

And since no one — not even Hamlet — questions the legality of the marriage, since a ceremony was performed and a priest must have performed it, we may, if we like, assume that Claudius secured a dispensation.

But I think it is simpler to assume that the whole matter seemed to Shakespeare of minor importance.

The curious case of gertrudes suicide in hamlet

He was not writing a play that turned on Catholic theology. The question of whether the marriage violates canon law was not his dramatic problem. And much of the language that he gives to Hamlet makes quite as good sense if we remember that "incestuous" 21 was used in Elizabethan times, to designate not only incest, but adultery, or loosely, all violations of sexual ethics.

Accordingly, if we sum up our examination of the problem, we must conclude, I believe, that the question of whether the marriage of Gertrude and Claudius was incestuous seemed to all concerned — to Shakespeare and his audience, to the court, to Claudius himself, to Gertrude, even to Hamlet — either a matter of little moment or a purely technical violation of church law, which Hamlet might or might not use in his denunciation of Claudius as he found it expedient to do so.

For Father Blackmore advances a third and more substantial reason for our dislike of the marriage in Hamlet. Canon law, he says, prohibits and nullifies the marriage of a man who murdered the husband of his accomplice in order to marry her.

The author very properly qualifies his language by admitting that this impediment was unknown to the queen. Hence, the guilt of the act is not hers, but Claudius', and his guilt arises, not from the marriage but from the murder that is the cause of the marriage.

We come back, in other words, to our original position, that the murder of his brother is Claudius' tragic fault.

Women In Hamlet

We sympathize with Hamlet, we turn from the guilty couple, because theology and universal moral judgment here coincide; we feel that it is wrong for a man to murder his mistress' husband.

And when we have admitted this, we observe that the dramatic problem of the play increases in interest. For Gertrude, like Oedipus, in this respect is an unwitting offender. She is guilty of adultery, but she believes that she has legitimized her passion by the marriage with Claudius, and at the same time the audience knows what she does not know: Our pity goes out to her.

And by a fine and subtle piece of work on Shakespeare's part, she never learns, so to speak, why it is that we condemn her. She never learns that Claudius has killed her first husband. And if we examine the question of why Shakespeare never lets her learn this fact, we see at once the reason: From her point of view he has done no evil; he is her lover, and she worships him; he has not, like herself, betrayed the trust of marriage.

Did she learn that her soul's idol was an assassin, and an assassin of her husband, her sense of guilt, her horror, her remorse, would as it were, stop the play and usurp the center of the action at the very time when all must be concentrated upon Hamlet.King Hamlet’s death and Gertrude’s wedding to Claudius happen immediately prior to the opening of the play.

These two events are the cause of Hamlet’s distress and . Hamlet's thoughts about suicide are all contained in his famous soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 1, beginning with the words "To be, or not to be: that is the question." He does not seem to have any.

Hamlet does not survive on the back of the relationsip between Gertrude and Claudius, but the nature of that relationship is a functional contributor to the marvelous complexity of the play.

In the closet scene, Hamlet implores Gertrude to discontinue sexual relations with Claudius. The Charges Against King Claudius. From The King in Hamlet by Howard Mumford Jones.

Austin: University Press. Hamlet's denunciations of his uncle are those of the ghost, but we can as conveniently confine ourselves to the one as to the other. Gertrude describes her love for Hamlet when she asks him not to return to Wittenberg.

When she shares with Ophelia her hope that the young woman would have married her Hamlet, she divulges her wish for his happiness. However, she never declares any kind of . Gertrude adores her son Hamlet, not only from the report of others (in Act 4, Scene 7, Claudius says she 'lives almost by his looks'), but from her spontaneous, affectionate interactions with him.

Women In Hamlet