Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, did Claudius seduce Gertrude before King Hamlet died?  

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Did Gertrude, in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, commit adultery with Claudius before Hamlet’s father was murdered? This issue has been much debated by Shakespeare scholars, with some arguing that Gertrude must have committed adultery, while others claiming that no incontrovertible evidence exists that she did.

As almost every commentator on this issue notes, the key piece of evidence in favor of the argument that Gertrude did commit adultery are these words from the ghost, referring initially to Claudius:

Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,--
O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power
So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen. (I.V.42-45)

The word “adulterate” has been used to support the claim that Claudius and Gertrude were literally adulterers before old Hamlet’s death. Yet the word...

(The entire section contains 447 words.)

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etotheeyepi | Student

The Ghost says, "... adulterate beast ... won to his shameful lust the will of my most seeming-virtuous queen."

One might interpret that to mean that Claudius and Gertrude had an affair prior to the elder Hamlet's death.

I think that "cut of even in the blossom of my sin" means that Hamlet's father died without receiving the last rights.

In Act III Scene 3, Hamlet says, "He took my father grossly, full of bread."

In the Geneva Bible, Ezekiel uses the term "full of bread" to suggest that the people of Sodom sinned by gluttony, among others, so dying "full of bread," could also mean not receiving the last rights.