Confused about "Muffled Queen"?I believe that muffled queen means quiet queen, as when King Hamlet died and Gertrude didn't even really mourn his death. I am completely confused about the next few...

Confused about "Muffled Queen"?

I believe that muffled queen means quiet queen, as when King Hamlet died and Gertrude didn't even really mourn his death.

I am completely confused about the next few lines though:

"Running back and forth, spraying the flames with her tears, a cloth on that head where a crown had recently sat and a blanket instead of a robe wrapped around her body, which has withered from childbearing: anyone seeing her in such a state, no matter how spiteful he was, would have cursed Lady Luck for bringing her down like that. If the gods had seen her while she watched Pyrrhus chopping her husband into bits, the terrible cry she uttered would have made all the eyes in heaven burn with hot tears—unless the gods don’t care at all about human affairs." (Act II, sc.ii ll.485-498)

I believe that the actor is saying that the queen (Hecuba) is sad because now that the king (Priam) died, she is no longer queen.

But why does it say "muffled queen", and yet those few lines state that she is crying so hard that even heaven would "burn with hot tears"?

Is it because she is only crying about losing her crown?


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lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Hecuba is crying in a very grand and dramatic fashion over the death of the husband, Priam. The word "mobled" or "muffled" is referring to the wrapping that is around her head where the crown once was. I don't think the text suggests that she crying about a change in status. The speech specifically says she is overwought at the image of Pyrrhus killing Priam in a violent manner. What is important about this part of the story is how very opposite is Hecuba in comparison to the lack of that show of emotion from Gertrude, especially in that she remarried to Claudius within just a few weeks of her dear husband's death.

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