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Gertrude
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Biography for
Gertrude (Character)
from Hamlet (1996)

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Gertrude is the Queen of Denmark in William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet". She is the mother of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (the hero of the play), the widow of old King Hamlet, who has recently and unexpectedly died, and the newlywed wife of Claudius, the old King's brother. She has married Claudius only a month after her first husband's death. Claudius has murdered the King (his own brother) in order to gain the throne and marry Gertrude, whom he has already seduced. It is never completely clear whether or not Gertrude knows about the murder; she, like everyone else, presumably believes that the old King died of a snake bite. The ghost of the old King appears to Prince Hamlet and asks him to avenge the murder by killing Claudius, but to leave Gertrude alone. Hamlet, though, does try to make Gertrude face the fact that Claudius is a murderer.

In Kenneth Branagh's 1996 film version of "Hamlet", towards the end, Gertrude has what seems like a change of attitude toward Claudius, when he shows more concern for his own person than for the recent death of Ophelia, Hamlet's sweetheart.

Page last updated by critic-2, 5 years ago
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