Hamlet coursework Essay

This essay has a total of 1775 words and 8 pages.

Hamlet coursework

"Hamlet thou has cleft my heart in twain"
Most productions present Gertrude and Ophelia as sympathetic victims of Hamlet's cruelty.
As your starting point, refer to either the closet scene or the nunnery scene and, paying
close attention to the language, show how it reveals the interaction between Hamlet and
the women characters here and throughout the play.


Referring to Hamlet's portrayal of a cruel character, the major victims that first come to
mind are Ophelia, his girlfriend possibly his future wife and Gertrude, his mother.

The significance of Hamlets attitude and behaviour shows an important aspect of the play
in the relationship with two women. It shows clearly intense relationships which cause
Hamlet a certain amount of pain. He is ‘trying' to portray madness in his character with
Ophelia in the nunnery scene and with Gertrude in the closet scene. Perhaps the reason of
madness towards Gertrude is the fact that she has married his uncle. The reason behind the
cruelty towards Ophelia could also be the fact that it is a kind cruelty trying to push
Ophelia away from him.


In the scene known as the closet scene we can see Hamlet and Gertrude alone altogether. He
starts with an accusation "You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife..."
Shakespeare uses such language in order to strengthen Hamlet's character, which tries to
trap Gertrude, informing her of the incestuous performed by her with her husband's
brother. This dialogue in its own sense creates the atmosphere and the theme of the scene.
Gertrude in her own self does fear Hamlet "What will thou do? Thou will not murder me..."
this emphasises on the fear held within Gertrude, maybe it is the body language or rather
face expressions of Hamlet towards Gertrude which causes to outbreaks the fear within her.
As Hamlet kills Polonius, the uncertainty in the atmosphere becomes as strong as Hamlets
anger, in this case we can say that it's more of his madness which is portrayed. It shows
to what extend he may go to take revenge, despite the fact that he is creating this
commotion in the presence of his mother. Another factor is that he could be showing his
power in order to prove a certain point to his mother, that he the dominant person of the
conversation. Knowing the fact that he is holding a knife, yet he attempts to put the
knife through the curtain, leading to the killing of his own love's father, Polonius. As
he gets more aggressive and violent in the scene, it shows the sort of respect he actually
does have for his mother. Hamlet is not just portraying the dominant character yet also
victimising his own mother.


There have been many times in the scene where Gertrude has tried to confront Hamlet
proving her innocence but Hamlet insults her leaving her in the state where she has
nothing to say in defence of proving her innocence. When Gertrude says "what have I done,
that thou dar'st wag thy tongue in noise so rude against me?" to what Hamlet replies,
"Such an act, that blurs the grace and blush of modesty…" he accuses her of breaking the
marriage with his father, due to adultery, and sexual desires, without even giving her a
chance to speak her heart. Hamlet through his language which is not directly stating her
into any category, but classes her as a desperate woman, who has no self respect, and has
no mind to think for herself. But again this is quite typical of a man to think or say to
a woman in Shakespeare's times.

"You cannot call it love, for at your age…" hamlet clearly stereotypes her of her age,
accusing her of this false marriage that she has had, with his father's brother.
Shakespeare has tried to show a contradiction between a mother and son relationship with
the status of a man and a woman in the 12th century.


After all the accusation Hamlet succeeds in provoking Gertrude's conscience into the guilt
of the incest that she has performed, as the guilt is building up in Gertrude's heart
Hamlet shows another vibe of his madness by making it seem as if the Ghost is in the room
where as Gertrude cannot see the sight of the Ghost. The madness of Hamlet portrays the
assuredly to Gertrude that she is not at fault, but Hamlet himself is in sick health. At
every point of the conversation she is reminded of the relationship rather the incest that
has taken place by her own son, degrading her self values. "Good night-but go not to my
uncle's bed..." Shakespeare uses such strong language for a Mother through her Son,
emphasising on the fact that it is Hamlet who has used such language yet a mother being a
woman has a control on her tongue even after hearing such insults and abuses from the
person who is supposed to love her the most in her life. The way Hamlet feels about his
mother reflects his views of women overall, the betrayal of women.


In the Nunnery scene, we can see that Hamlet is dominating Ophelia, which is a typical
olden day's interaction between a man and a woman. Ophelia takes many insults and abuses
from Hamlet, even though knowing that he is completely turned mad, she still loves him and
wants him the way he is. This particular aspect shows the true love of Ophelia, yet she
does not answer him back and takes all the insults portraying the feminine weakness.
Hamlet mock Ophelia by saying "Go to thee nunnery..." he is trying to make a point that,
she is innocent, she will be corrupted by a man. The only way she will be able 2 save her
virginity is if she went to the nunnery, again mocking her feelings and playing with her
emotions. In a sense that is ways of making some one suffer by the strong language.


Perhaps Hamlet himself is aware of the fact that whatever has happened or will happen
Ophelia still does love him, despite who ever is behind the reason of them two being
drifted apart true love always comes back. Another reason could also be the fact the he is
showing the kind cruelty towards her to make such circumstances in which they both drift
apart. In this scene hamlet is basically challenging Ophelia of her innocence, that she
will corrupt someone. We can see how much into himself hamlet is in this scene, mocking
Continues for 4 more pages >>




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