In This Excerpt, Hamlet Characterizes His Mother As

In This Excerpt, Hamlet Characterizes His Mother As

In a famous excerpt from William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the titular character characterizes his mother Gertrude in a few short yet powerful words. In this excerpt, Hamlet describes his mother as “eager, fickle, loyal.”

Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude, is the wife of the late King Hamlet and wife to his usurper, King Claudius. In the play, Gertrude carries a strong motherly concern for her son. This is evident shortly after King Claudius and Gertrude announce their marriage in Act 1 Scene 2, where she quickly dispatches her son Hamlet, fearing for his safety.

O’er the contagion of the world,

A Weeping shower of majesty,

I will bestow him, and will answer well

The death I gave him.

Later, we see the extent of Gertrude’s concern for her son’s well-being as Hamlet begins to display signs of distress. Despite her worries for him, we know that Gertrude is not without her faults. For instance, Gertrude quickly marries King Claudius, much to the disappointment of her son. Despite this, Hamlet still characterizes his mother as “eager, fickle, and loyal.”

Eagerness implies that Gertrude is willing to take risks for the sake of something she believes in. In Act 3, Gertrude is willing to drink from a poisoned cup in order to prove her loyalty to Claudius. Fickleness is also a trait of Gertrude’s as she quickly switches her affections from Hamlet’s father to his usurper. Lastly, loyalty is a trait that Hamlet acknowledges about his mother, as she remains faithful to Claudius despite her son’s attempts to separate them.

Gertrude is a complex yet interesting character in Shakespeare’s play. Her loyalty to her son is evident, as is her eagerness to take risks for what she believes in. In the end, Hamlet characterizes his mother as “eager, fickle, and loyal”, and it is these qualities that shape her as a character.

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