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True love in Hamlet

Uploaded by kylee on Mar 05, 2001

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” (1.4.89) Marcellus so wisely stated not knowing the precision behind his words. Various dialogue exchanged throughout the play discretely summarized events that took place. Horatio proved this point when he stated “Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts, of accidental judgments, casual slaughters, of deaths put on by cunning and [forc’d] cause, and in this upshot, purposes mistook fall’n on th’ inventors’ heads.” (5.2.381-5)

These quotes could easily relate to numerous events that took place during the course of the play, however, none of them are more interesting then the question of true love. The words true love do not encompass Hamlet and Ophelia; but, Gertrude and Claudius.

Many readers of Hamlet assume that Gertrude and Claudius were madly in love with out truly investigating the nature of their “marriage.” Most arguments on this topic are solely based around one misread and overlooked passage. The ghost clearly pronounced “Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,” (1.5.42) but, what did the spirit actually mean? To comprehend what the ghost meant by these words, the sentence needs to be broken down. One word specifically plays a significant role in how the relationship between Claudius and Gertrude is interpreted.

The word “adulterate” has many definitions; counterfeit, corrupted by intermixture, to falsify, to make impure or inferior, or to corrupt. If these definitions are applied to the characteristics of Claudius (to whom the ghost was referring to), or, to the effect Claudius has on Gertrude; it is easily understood why so many are falsely lead to assume that Claudius and Gertrude were partaking in an “incestuous” relationship, this is caused by lack of examination.

The single word “adulterate” opens innumerable doors left to be navigated. Questions arise that could change ones outlook on the entire play. Such as: Did Gertrude know about Claudius’ plans to murder old Hamlet?; What did Gertrude gain by marring Claudius?; What did Claudius have to gain by marring Gertrude?; Were they intimately involved before old Hamlet’s death? and finally, were Claudius and Gertrude in love?

As to the question of weather or not Gertrude knew about the premeditated murder of old Hamlet, the answer is no. There are uncountable examples that prove this to be a false assumption. During the “mouse trap,” a performance acted by the players, a scene that depicts a king talking to his queen about death, the player queen recites over and over her...

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Uploaded by:   kylee

Date:   03/05/2001

Category:   Hamlet

Length:   6 pages (1,253 words)

Views:   1497

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