Hamlet

Gertrude Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Hamlet's mother. After Hamlet's father dies, Gertrude quickly marries Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. Though she is a good woman and loving mother, she is weak-willed and unable to control her personal passions. Whether because of lust, love, or a desire to maintain her status as queen, she marries Claudius, though this is clearly a breach of proper morals. Though some critics have argued that Gertrude might have been involved in Claudius's plot to kill Old Hamlet, evidence in the text suggests that she is unaware of and uninvolved in the plot.

Gertrude Quotes in Hamlet

The Hamlet quotes below are all either spoken by Gertrude or refer to Gertrude. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Hamlet published in 1992.
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes
Seems, madam! Nay, it is; I know not "seems."
Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Gertrude
Page Number: 1.2.79
Explanation and Analysis:

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Frailty, thy name is woman!
Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Gertrude
Page Number: 1.2.150
Explanation and Analysis:

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Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak'd meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Claudius, Gertrude, Horatio
Page Number: 1.2.87-88
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Gertrude Character Timeline in Hamlet

The timeline below shows where the character Gertrude appears in Hamlet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 2
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...the dead king, holds court. He uses pretty language to make his recent marriage to Gertrude, his brother's widow, sound perfectly normal. He says it is possible to balance "woe" and... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Next, Claudius turns to Hamlet, and asks why he is still dressed in mourning clothes. Gertrude wonders why he "seems" so upset. Hamlet says he "is" upset, and that his clothes... (full context)
Women Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Gertrude seconds the request. Hamlet promises to obey his mother. (full context)
Women Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
...and uncle. He says Claudius is far inferior to Old Hamlet, and, in anguish, describes Gertrude as a lustful beast. (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
...Horatio at Wittenberg, is happy to see his friend, and pleased when Horatio agrees that Gertrude and Claudius's marriage was hasty. (full context)
Act 1, scene 5
Women Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
The Ghost commands Hamlet to seek revenge against Claudius for murder and for corrupting Gertrude. Yet the Ghost also warns Hamlet not to harm his mother. Dawn breaks. The Ghost... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Hamlet promises to do nothing but seek revenge. He curses first Gertrude, "O most pernicious woman!" (1.5.105), then Claudius, "That one may smile, and smile, and be... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Claudius and Gertrude greet Hamlet's old friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, whom they summoned to Elsinore to figure out... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...the ambassadors have returned from Norway. He goes to get them. While Polonius is gone, Gertrude remarks that Hamlet's mania probably comes from his father's death and her too-hasty marriage to... (full context)
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Women Theme Icon
...long-winded ramble about Hamlet's madness, Polonius reads love letters Hamlet sent to Ophelia. Claudius and Gertrude agree that lovesickness may be causing Hamlet's behavior. Polonius proposes that they stage a meeting... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can't figure out what's behind Hamlet's odd behavior, but tell Claudius and Gertrude that he was excited by the arrival of the players. The King and Queen, hopeful... (full context)
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Women Theme Icon
...Hamlet loves Ophelia. He requests that after the play Hamlet be sent to talk with Gertrude, where Polonius will once again spy. (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
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Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, and others arrive to watch the play. Hamlet tells Horatio he's now going... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...attempts to act at university, harasses Ophelia with sexual puns, then makes bitter remarks about Gertrude for marrying Claudius. (full context)
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Women Theme Icon
...about). The players then begin to act the full play. As the plot becomes clear, Gertrude and Claudius become uncomfortable. Hamlet mocks them, while continuing to launch sexual puns at Ophelia.... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Polonius enters, repeating Gertrude's request to see him. Hamlet pretends to see odd shapes in a non-existent cloud. Polonius... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Polonius enters with news: Hamlet is headed to Gertrude's room, where Polonius will hide behind a tapestry. (full context)
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
...he possesses the spoils of the murder, neither of which he wants to give up: Gertrude and the throne. Yet he kneels to pray. (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
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Women Theme Icon
Polonius and Gertrude wait for Hamlet in Gertrude's chamber. Polonius advises her to be tough with Hamlet. Just... (full context)
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Women Theme Icon
Hamlet enters. Gertrude says he has offended his father (i.e. Claudius). Hamlet says that she's offended his father... (full context)
Women Theme Icon
Gertrude shouts, "What a rash and bloody deed!" (3.4.27). Hamlet responds, "As bad… as kill a... (full context)
Women Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Hamlet forces Gertrude to look at a picture of his father and compare it to one of Claudius,... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...order, it says, to refocus Hamlet on his duty—revenge against Claudius. Hamlet speaks to it. Gertrude can't see the ghost and thinks Hamlet's mad. The Ghost tells Hamlet to calm her. (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Hamlet tries to convince Gertrude that he's sane, and begs her to confess her sins, to be pure and avoid... (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
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Claudius sees that Gertrude is upset. She says Hamlet was acting insane, and in his madness killed Polonius. (full context)
Act 4, scene 5
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Women Theme Icon
Gertrude and Horatio sadly discuss the madness that has taken over Ophelia since Polonius was killed.... (full context)
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Gertrude exclaims that the mob and Laertes are blaming the wrong person for the death of... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...to get revenge for the death of his father. Claudius admits that Polonius is dead. Gertrude adds that Claudius did not kill him. (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...and handing out flowers (perhaps imaginary): rosemary and pansies to Laertes; fennel and columbines to Gertrude; rue and daisies to Claudius. Laertes demands vengeance for her madness. Ophelia exits, wishing God's... (full context)
Act 4, scene 7
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...Laertes asks why Claudius didn't punish Hamlet for killing Polonius. Claudius answers: First, he loves Gertrude and she's Hamlet's mother; second, Hamlet is loved by the people, so punishing him might... (full context)
Women Theme Icon
Gertrude rushes in with news that Ophelia has drowned. While gathering flowers she fell into the... (full context)
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Laertes, weeping, exits. Claudius fears Ophelia's death might reignite Laertes anger and rebellion. He and Gertrude follow Laertes to calm him down. (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Hamlet and Horatio hear a noise and hide. Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, a priest, and other lords enter in a funeral procession with a coffin. The... (full context)
Act 5, scene 2
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Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, and the entire court enter to watch the duel. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes. Laertes... (full context)
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Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Hamlet scores the second hit. Gertrude lifts the poisoned cup to drink in Hamlet's honor. Claudius tries to stop her, but... (full context)
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Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Gertrude falls. Claudius claims Gertrude fainted because she saw Hamlet and Laertes bleeding, but Gertrude says... (full context)