Hamlet and Gertrude’s Relationship of Love

Subject: Literature
Pages: 7
Words: 1707
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: Bachelor


Hamlet is a story about love which involves lies and betrayal. Human relationship as a theme is very significant in this story. The natural, intimate or logical association between two or more people could be defined as a relationship. A lot of relationships are interwoven in this story and the bonds in these relationships are very strong. This can be seen in the relationship between Gertrude and her son young Hamlet. In spite of their differences, she was always trying to protect her son even at the point of death; she stops him from drinking poison. Another example of a relationship with a strong bond is the relationship between young Hamlet and his closest friend and confidant Horatio. (Benson 121)

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Claudius’ love for Gertrude causes him to kill his brother old king Hamlet. The intensity of their love reminds the reader of other famous lovers throughout history. The central theme of this story is love. However, the love relationship between Claudius and Gertrude has its roots in lies, fear, betrayal and even death. This relationship between Hamlet’s uncle and his mother puts a strain on his relationship with his mother Gertrude. Constant lies, deceit and manipulation escalate the evil that characters in the story perpetrate against one and other.

Lastly, the lessons learnt from this story will be highlighted and the necessary measures or steps needed to curtail such a situation will be suggested. (Benson 128)

Hamlet and Gertrude’s Relationship

Young prince Hamlet was born in the family of old king Hamlet and Queen Gertrude of Denmark. The character Hamlet has many relationships with different people in the story. Some of these relationships can be termed or described as just or unjust relationships depending on the flaws, feelings and position of the person or character that had a relationship with Hamlet. Hamlet’s relationship to his mother Gertrude is known or described as an Oedipus complex. The feelings and thoughts some men have towards their mothers are referred to as Oedipus complex. Some examples in the play show that truly Hamlet did indeed have such thoughts about his mother. (Benson 155)

After prince Hamlet’s encounter with the supposedly ghost of his father old king Hamlet, he found out about his uncle’s evil deed. Adhering strictly to the advice of his father’s ghost, prince Hamlet tried not to hurt his mother Gertrude. Although he constantly risked her life, young prince Hamlet did not want his mother to get hurt.

On the other hand, through out the story, Gertrude’s love and fondness for her son is displayed. She was always trying to protect prince Hamlet. When Hamlet told her about Claudius’ evil deed, instead of doubting her son she rather believed he was insane. He also told his mother not to reveal to Claudius that he, Hamlet was aware of his murderous evil act. In other to be extremely sure about Claudius’s guilt and prove it to his mother Gertrude, Hamlet organized a play depicting his father’s death. While the play went on, Claudius left due to the uneasiness he felt from watching the play which depicted how he wickedly killed his brother old king Hamlet and married his wife, Queen Gertrude. (Benson 148)

After proving his sanity to his mother and clearly showing Claudius’ guilt, Prince Hamlet Urged his mother not to let Claudius take her to bed again. He tried to save his mother’s life while there was still time.

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Hamlet’s feelings towards Gertrude his mother were very just although at some instances towards the end of the story, he risked her life.


Throughout this story, there is a complicated web of lies. After confiding in his best and closest friend Horatio about Claudius’ evil act, prince Hamlet begins to think of a perfect place and time to avenge his father’s death. Polonius in this story is a great liar and manipulator. Although he is king Claudius’ trusted counselor but he and his son had ulterior motives. Polonius and his son Laertes deceived Ophelia about Hamlet’s sincerity concerning their courtship. (Benson 167)

Ophelia succumbed to the whims and caprices of her father and brother thus she never behaved well towards Hamlet. Her desires were her primary goals and she never showed any respect for her womanhood. Subsequently, Prince Hamlet discovered she had been lying to him and he denounced his love for her and also called her a prostitute then he insulted her father Polonius in the presence of King Claudius and Queen Gertrude by calling him a fishmonger. (Benson 205)

Another example of lies in the story is the situation between Prince Hamlet and his childhood friends namely; Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. Disturbed by prince Hamlet’s change of attitude, King Claudius asked Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out what was actually troubling prince him. The duo went to Hamlet under the pretence of been concerned friends. In reality, the twin brothers were there simply for the fact that they wanted to find out what was wrong with Hamlet so they could tell King Claudius. They tried hiding under lies to enable them dig into his soul and find out what was actually responsible for his change in attitude. After a failed attempt, the twin brothers returned a second time to try again but they were rebuffed by Hamlet who insulted and called them liars. (Benson 315)


Betrayals seem to be the order of the day through out this play. Schemes of lies and betrayals are plotted and orchestrated by friends and loved ones.

Claudius betrayed his brother’s love by killing him, marrying his wife and taking over his kingdom. Unfortunately for Claudius, the ghost of old king Hamlet appears to his son the prince and reveals the truth how Claudius had poisoned him. As the story unfolds, Hamlet plans how to avenge his father’s death. (Benson 444)

Ophelia also betrayed Hamlets love by listening to the advice of her father and brother. Hamlet had real love for Ophelia but instead she choose to betray that love. When Hamlet finally denounced his love for her and also called her a prostitute, Ophelia could not handle it any longer and that broke her down then it eventually led to insanity.

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Another case of betrayal in this story is the situation between Prince Hamlet and his childhood friends. Hamlet reposed his confidence in his friends little did he know his good deed would be paid back in an evil manner. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had been Hamlet’s friends from childhood and when they agreed to spy on him for King Claudius, that friendship was not only betrayed but also it also broke. Unknown to Hamlet, the concern shown by his twin friends was as a result of their plot with King Claudius to find out what was actually wrong with him. However, when Hamlet finally discerns their real intent, he rebuffed them. In a final attempt to cleverly kill Hamlet, King Claudius sends him to England where he was to be executed on arrival under the guise of diplomatic errand. The twin brothers were supposed to closely watch Hamlet during the course of their journey. But instead of going with the brothers, Hamlet cleverly sends the twins to England with out him. (Benson 323)


This story ends as a tragedy because, all the main characters died including Hamlet, his mother queen Gertrude and King Claudius. A lot of lessons are to be learnt from the story.

Prince Hamlet was driven by youthful exuberance did not take his time to think or consider the implications of his intended act of murder. Blinded by the urge to avenge his father’s death, Hamlet threw caution to the winds and took a dangerous path which eventually led to his untimely death. On the path to avenge his father’s death Hamlet killed three people namely; Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In the case of Polonius, he did not feel any remorse for stabbing him because Polonius was eavesdropping on the conversation between him and his mother. While for the case of the twin brothers, he concluded that they got what they deserved for playing along the king’s plot to kill him. Hamlet died from the poisoned tip of Laertes’ sword. (Benson 512)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were friends with Hamlet even before the assumption of the throne by Claudius. But apparently, this did not matter to them as they connived with King Claudius against him. First they tried to get information from him by pretending to be concerned about his well being and later, they were also associated in the plot to kill him in England. The duo eventually met their doom as the faced persecution meant for Hamlet in England. (Benson 276)

Ophelia also paid dearly for her sins of betrayal. She simply complied with the advice of her father and brother not minding if what they said was true or not. The turning point for her was the point when Hamlet discovered about her lies and denounced his love for her. She could not handle this and she lost sanity.

King Claudius was the main character in the play whose evil deeds eventually drove other character like Prince Hamlet to go extra miles just to avenge his father’s death. Claudius committed murder, treason, and adultery all in a bid to ascend his brother’s throne. After killing his brother old king Hamlet, he eventually married his wife and tried to kill his son. On the path to this dangerous adventure, Claudius involved friends of his predecessor’s family who unfortunately succumbed to his whims and caprices. After master minding the death of King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude both who died of poisoning, he eventually arranged a fight between Laertes Polonius’ son who also wanted to avenge his father death and Hamlet. King Claudius poisoned the tip of Laertes sword hoping he would kill Hamlet. Although Hamlet died but not before stabbing King Claudius with the same sword he had poisoned. To sum it all up, King Claudius did not got free after committing so many crimes and to complement the play, he died through a weapon he had put in place to destroy Hamlet. (Benson 499)

Works Cited

Benson, George. The Norton Anthology of World Literature: “Shorter Second Edition, Volume 1” Oxford: Blackwell 2005. Print

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