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Date Submitted: 08/17/2013 09:37 AM

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Gertrude: Innocent Until Proven Guilty

In Hamlet, Queen Gertrude’s character may present suspicions of her being guilty as an adulterous, fully aware of King Hamlet’s murder, and a selfish, unconcerned mother. However when entirely examined, the evidence shows through her actions that she is innocent. The play does not present any concrete evidence to prove Gertrude is guilty of adultery or murder or any knowledge pertaining to the murder. Her is role is essential in leading up to the horrible actions at the end of the play. Gertrude is a complex figure in that she may be insensitive to Hamlet’s feelings, but as a mother, she does have an honest concern for her son. Her complicated character is a significant source for the tragedy because if she had been any other type of character, the result of the deaths in the end might not have occurred.

The first piece of evidence that shows Gertrude’s innocence is the encounter between Hamlet and the Ghost during the first act, scene five. During the conversation that takes place in lines 1-90, the Ghost tells Hamlet to seek vengeance against this killer. The Ghost reveals that it was his brother, Claudius, who murdered him. He (the Ghost) refers to his brother Claudius as “the serpent that did sting thy father’s life” (line 39). The use of the word “serpent” is important here because it shows he blames everything on Claudius. His wife, in his eyes, was loyal to him; she was his “virtuous queen” (line 46). Another key element to examine here is that during this conversation, the Ghost never accuses Gertrude or murder or have knowing anything about his murder. In lines 84-86, the Ghost advises Hamlet that while he does want his to get revenge, he does not want him to blame his mother for anything “but how whom so ever thou pursues this act, taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against they mother aught. Leave her to heaven...”One opposing critique would want to point out that the Ghost refers to Claudius as an...