Claudius demands the Queen to explain Hamlet's behavior, she claims he is insane. Does she really believe that Hamlet is mad or is she protecting him? ACT IV, i, 1-27

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The short first scene of Act IV centres around Gertrude's betrayal of Hamlet. Although she does honour Hamlet's request to not tell Claudius that he is only feigning madness, it is clear that, having promised to help her son, Gertrude turns him in to her husband. The...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The short first scene of Act IV centres around Gertrude's betrayal of Hamlet. Although she does honour Hamlet's request to not tell Claudius that he is only feigning madness, it is clear that, having promised to help her son, Gertrude turns him in to her husband. The immediate and extremely frank way in which Gertrude reports the actions of Hamlet in killing Polonius show that she is well and truly on the side of her husband. Beyond this, the motives of Gertrude are up to your own individual opinion: some have argued that she truly believed Hamlet to be mad and thus wanted to help him by reporting him to Claudius, others say that she has recognised that her best interests lie in the camp of Claudius at this stage and this is why she betrays Hamlet. Either way, it cannot be avoided that it is this act of Gertrude that leads to Claudius' plan to have Hamlet killed. "Frailty thy name is woman" indeed!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team