In Hamlet, does Gertrude know of Claudius' guilt?

Expert Answers

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

In the play, it seems that Gertrude is unaware of Claudius's guilt in the murder of her husband, the old King Hamlet. As the old king's ghost says to his son,

Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, [Claudius,]
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.
O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!

In other words, then, the ghost , who knows of Claudius's guilt in his murder, does not think that Gertrude had any knowledge of the murder. He blames her for being seduced by his brother, her brother-in-law, in what would be considered a biblically incestuous relationship, and for remarrying so soon after his demise. He also blames her for seeming to be sexually virtuous when she was actually lustful and corruptible. His final line in the above quotation indicates that he believes that Gertrude fell from innocence when she remarried in this way. Had she been complicit...

(The entire section contains 6 answers and 2753 words.)

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
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on