Analyse Hamlet's response to his mother's marriage to Cladious.

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Where does one start when analyzing Hamlet's response to his mother's marriage to Claudius in Shakespeare's Hamlet?  He dwells on it so much he says a great deal about it. 

Hamlet is depressed by the marriage (as well as by his father's death, of course), angry, bewildered, confused, and can't believe his mother would do such a thing.

To Hamlet, his mother is ungrateful and unappreciative, and is a whore (said in anger, but still).  In Shakespeare's day, to sleep with a dead man's brother was to commit adultery, so his mother is also an adulteress.  Hamlet is so obsessed by it that he repeatedly orders her to not sleep with Claudius any more. 

His father's ghost orders Hamlet twice to leave his mother alone and just concentrate on Claudius, but Hamlet can't let the issue alone. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this play (most clearly in Act III, Scene 4) we see that Hamlet is absolutely enraged about his mother's marriage to Claudius.  There are a number of ways you could explain this.

  • It may be that he is simply angry because she has married the man who killed his father.  He may think that she helped with the killing or at least that she knew of it.
  • But it seems odd that he would talk so sexually about their marriage if that is his only motivation.  Freud says Hamlet has an Oedipus complex -- that he wants to sleep with his mother.  This would make the sexual nature of his comments more sensible -- perhaps he is jealous of Claudius.