What Was Gertrude Thinking?

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What was Gertrude thinking? Did she love Old Hamlet? Or was she in love with Claudius? This paper shall look at the differences between Shakespeare’s Gertrude in Hamlet and Sir Laurence Olivier’s version of Gertrude. Her actions, her tone, and her clothing show a different woman in a comparison of the text and the film. To begin with Gertrude in the text is a loving woman who I feel is sad, but doing what she feels is right for Denmark, by marrying Claudius shortly after the untimely death of her husband, Old Hamlet one month prior to this. Where as in the movie she tries to look contrite but you can see the love and admiration in her eyes when she looks upon Claudius. The bloom in her cheeks gives her an almost youthful appearance in the film. This can be seen when she beseeches Hamlet to stay and not return to Wittenberg. “Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet. / I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.” (1.2.118-119) Gertrude says the same lines in the text but she is not parroting what Claudius says. She is genuinely concerned about Hamlet, believing that his father’s death is the only cause of his melancholy. This continues when she and Claudius are speaking with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern “Thanks, Guildenstern and Gentle Rosencrantz. /And I beseech you instantly to visit/ My too changed son. Go, some of you, / And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is” (2.2.34-37). This shows that Shakespeare portrayed Gertrude in a different light from Olivier’s interpretation of this woman, because this only happens in the text. In Olivier’s film this scene is removed completely. Secondly, Gertrude is shown as a woman gay and happy in the film. She dresses in light colours. I don’t know whether in Elizabethan times the colour of one’s clothing played into the mourning period. But I would have pictured Gertrude in mute and dower colours even

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