Some Interpretations Have Portrayed Tragic Heroines

Last Updated: 26 Jan 2021
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Some Interpretations Have Portrayed Tragic Heroines as Manipulative Plotters Driven by Passionate Desires. Others Have Seen the Tragic Women as Victims of Powerful Individuals or Society as a Whole. Bearing in Mind By Troubleshoots Gertrude is a very minute character in Hamlet, yet the same cannot be said about her impact on the action of the play. Certain audiences view Gertrude in different ways, some sympathies with her as a character, and see her actions as empowering towards women as a whole, letting loose of the social conventions of the Shakespearian era, in addition to being a caring mother.

However, I feel there are two options that can be seen here concerning Gertrude as a person, and neither of them are positive, as the only two plausible ways in which her character can be based on is a manipulative plotter, or one who is simply invested in her own ignorance. Considering her lack of concern for the social conventions of the time, alongside poor ways of dealing with an unstable son, it is my personal opinion that Shakespeare intended Gertrude to be seen as a manipulative plotter, rather than a woman who epitomized a tragic heroine.

To begin assessing how much of a tragic heroine Gertrude really was, it is imperative o assess the tragic conventions of the time. 'A hero must fall from fortune and power, with a tragic flaw allowing the reader to empathic with the character' (Aristotle 335 BCC) In addition to this, Shakespearean tragic conventions also suggest that a tragic heroine must show promise of further greatness and possess a character trait that would normally be a virtue, but under the circumstances of the play become a flaw.

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On the surface my repudiation of Gertrude as anything other than a manipulative plotter may seem a brash claim; at least it does until we are met with the way she infernos Claudia in Act 2 Scene 2. Her line thanks Guilelessness, and gentle Restaurants' (2:2:34) is used either to correct what Claudia said Just before her, or is simply her mistaking between Restaurants and Guilelessness.

I think it is obvious that it is merely Gertrude correcting Claudia, as if the line were meant to be said with indecision, Shakespeare would have most likely used a question mark in the speech in order to highlight that Gertrude was meant to say the line with a certain amount of uncertainty. This shows that whilst the nature of the line may have been unsorted as one that was merely of her own confusion, I maintain the claim that it is far more likely that Shakespeare intended for this to be an indication of Gertrude out for - one who is devious, scheming and willing to plot.

Considering that the social conventions of the time dictated that women were to be inferior to men, the idea of correcting a man without even a hint of uncertainty portrays to a Shakespearian audience an ignorance of social values; in my opinion this is used as a subtle hint early on to make the audience know that this is a character to watch out for, as her expedient nature percolates and promulgates itself to the audience throughout the rest of the play.

Whilst it may be conceded that a modern audience would see Gertrude in a less damning way, we cannot ignore the fact that this wildly contradicts the idea of a tragic heroine being one that the audience can empathic with, nor does it show any evidence of her having a virtue which would turn out to be a flaw.

Gertrude moral turpitude is pumped at relentlessly throughout the play, and is shown further in Act 2 Scene 2, where Gertrude is shown without ambiguity or doubt hat she is aware of Hamlet's grief 'l doubt [Hamlet's upset] is no other but the main: His father's death and our detracts marriage' (2:2:56), dispelling any possible nature that Gertrude does not know what is wrong with Hamlet.

Despite this, she makes no effort to console Hamlet, and merely accepts the very brief Well, we shall sift him' reply that is given by Claudia. This meaner one of two things: that she is unable to think or speak for herself, or able to speak up but unwilling. Considering that she had already corrected Claudia earlier in the play, it thus follows that this line was not en that showed her as a victim of powerful individuals as she has already proven earlier that she is not a mindless sycophant.

When we are to consider that her son has been horrifically upset to the point where he is bordering on insanity, and the reason for this is because of Gertrude marriage to his brother only two weeks after the death of his father (for whom he had the greatest admiration) yet still felt no need to console him, I would argue that by her inaction what she did was indicative of a manipulative plotter.

Not only this, but her status as a tragic heroine is dispelled, s simply allowing one's own flesh and blood to suffer is the direct antithesis of what it meaner to be a tragic heroine: 'a character which allows the audience to empathic with them'. I feel that this is strong evidence for her status as a manipulative plotter. It is not only in Gertrude treatment of Hamlet that her manipulation is evident, but in her behavior towards other characters. The Queen's hostility towards Aphelia initially appears through sophisticated strategies of aggression, but the increasing dangers force stronger defenses. Whether resulting from physical action or ethical taxation, the Queen is culpable in the death of Aphelia" (Lobber, Harmonic 2004) The quote above suggests motives for Gertrude in killing Aphelia, and thus truly securing her status as a manipulative plotter, and one completely incapable of fitting the definition for a tragic heroine.

Of course, interpretation of Gertrude is a difficult thing, and a large part of this is due to Shakespeare giving Gertrude very few spoken lines during the play, yet this does seem odd considering that her role is so crucial to Hamlet's suffering. So why does Shakespeare do this? Personally, I feel her infrequent appearances, yet essential role are placed within the play in order to create a sense of suspicion about Gertrude, to keep the audience wondering about where Gertrude be said that this quote is not enough to completely condemn Gertrude.

However, when all the evidence piles up, Shakespeare creates a special bond between Aphelia and Gertrude, particularly when we look at the following interpretation "the language of flowers creates a relationship that in effect places them in close proximity' (Radcliff, S - 1998) which again implies that Shakespeare purposely rated closeness between these two in this scene for a purpose, and I feel that in creating this bond Shakespeare was effectively offering Gertrude a chance to be seen as a tragic heroine, yet we know that at the very least she was passive or unable, both of which contradict the supposed nobility of a tragic heroine.

That said, I think that the closeness created by Shakespeare was to show that Gertrude actually did have the chance to save Aphelia, and if he had not used the language of flowers in such a way, it would have shown Gertrude inability rather than her nature as a manipulative plotter.

This is supported by the fact that Gertrude 'kills' Aphelia from the play, and whilst I realize it is completely impossible to prove the speculations about off-stage events, she does in fact 'kill her' off from the play, as she is the one who reveals her death, making it far too coincidental for it to be unintentional, and in my opinion the most obvious interpretation seems to me that Gertrude is meant to be seen as a manipulative plotter.

In conclusion, I do feel that Shakespeare intended Gertrude to be a manipulative plotter, as every possible moment of niceness she portrays within the play, in my pinion can be countered with at least an equally good reason as to why she could have done so in a meticulously fetid way. Even when we consider her name 'Gertrude', the sounds of the g and the 'r' are harsh sounding, and this could well have been done in order to create an immediately disliked and nasty character.

Her ignorance is a possible interpretation, but upon further exploration of her lines we have discovered that she is aware of why Hamlet is upset, and yet still chooses to take no act to relieve this. We have seen compelling evidence from other critics to suggest her involvement in Aphelion's death, combined with several remarks that come off as at the very least petty, if not malicious, in addition to the chances she has to make a big difference in the play, yet seems either incompetent or scheming.

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Some Interpretations Have Portrayed Tragic Heroines. (2018, Aug 09). Retrieved from

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