The Importance of Family and Hamlet’s pursuit of Claudius essay
- Date:Jul 06, 2019
Family plays an important role in the life of humans. Deep inside you know that in matters of life and death, in times of joys or sorrows you will always want to be in the company of your family and their shoulders will provide comfort to you when you need them to cry on. Family is sacred and should be given preferential treatment over others. Without family, no one in the world can be truly happy.
Hamlet was a young prince whose life was devastated by the fact that his uncle Claudius had killed his father to ascend to the throne. To make matters worse for Hamlet, Claudius married his mother Gertrude within one month of the Kings death. Hamlet is deeply affected by this act and this results in even more anger and disappointment. Gertrude was the only family he had left and she had seemingly betrayed the family by marrying Hamlets uncle. Due to this abrupt marriage, Hamlet is convinced of the fact that Gertrude had conspired with Claudius in his father’s death and she had long harbored a desire for him.
He forgot the importance of family and he should have given her the benefit of doubt but he didn’t. The result was that this mistrust and anger towards her resulted indirectly in the deaths of all his beloved ones like Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Gertrude herself. But in reality, Gertrude loved her son very much and longed for his mental and physical health. She may have shattered the trust of her son by marrying her brother-in-law but she always cared for him as a mother and that is proved as the play continues.
At first, Hamlet didn’t know of his uncle’s involvement in the murder of his father and is simply grieving the fact that his mother had betrayed his father and the family by marrying Claudius and that too within a space of a month. He says: “A little month or ere those shoes were old, with which she followed my poor father’s body, like Niobe, all tears:–why she, even she — O, God! A beast, that wants discourse of reason, would have mourned longer—married with my uncle, my father’s brother, but no more like my father than I to Hercules” (Shakespeare, 11)
He is so angered by her action that he can’t even seem to think and speak clearly. He compares her to Niobe who had grieved her children after turning them into stones. He believes Niobe would have mourned longer than his mother did after the funeral of his father.
After he meets the ghost and finds out that his father was killed by Claudius he is sickened by grief and due to the hurried marriage of Gertrude to Claudius, he blames it on both of them so he goes to his mother and confronts her: “Frailty, thy name if woman!” (Shakespeare, 11)
Hamlet is aggrieved by these haphazard acts of his mother so he stereotypes the whole of the fair sex by calling them frail. He believes that they are weak and are unable to make a strong decision. He even calls her marriage “incest” meaning having a relationship with the forbidden family members like the in-laws. In those times, a person marrying his sister-in-law was considered equal to incest unless special permission was given by the church in rare cases. The importance of family to her was nothing at all; she had betrayed the very word. He confronts her in a hysterical fashion accusing her of being unable to control her desires towards Claudius and that her frailty had destroyed the family.
Gertrude had true feelings for her son and her family even though she was saddened by his hysterical actions and accusing behavior. She feels guilty for her rushed marriage and is disgusted by the schemes Claudius hatches against her son. In the end, when Hamlet is fighting Laertes to the death; during recess, she says: “He’s fat, and scant of breath here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows; The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet” (Shakespeare, 112) She calls Claudius fat and his breath bad publicly. It shows that her marriage to him could have been due to pressurizing a sense of security rather than affection. This is a big step in improving the relationship between the mother and son because so far she hasn’t said anything about her marriage. Hamlet appreciates her and lets her wipe his sweaty brow thus accepting her back. But unfortunately, afterwards, Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine meant for Hamlet and dies. Torn by grief, Hamlet announces his affection for her all but too late.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet: Prince of Denmark. a Tragedy. by William Shakespeare. Printed by Tauchnitz, 1868. Internet resource.