Does Hamlet really hate his mother?

Expert Answers
blacksheepunite eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet is conflicted. It is clear that they cared about each other prior to Gertrude's remarriage--she worries about his depression, and he worries about her lack of it. But though Hamlet wants her to be more morally upright, he does not wish harm to come to her and his father's ghost forbids him to punish her.

Hamlet is no more "in love" with his mother than Ophelia is in love with her father. The sexual references are no evidence of that--not once does he make reference to a sexual union between him and her, or even pun with them. His comments focus on how easy she is and fickle. (On the other hand, he does make sexually suggestive comments directed at Ophelia, asking her if she means "country matters" and if he should "lie" his "head upon" her lap).

Hamlet's sexual innuendo calls into question Gertrude's morality and her faithfulness. In this, he insults both her and Claudius, for they have both broken with protocol in their overhasty marriage. Nothing in the text indicates he is concerned about her faithfulness to him; it is her lack of faithfulness to his father that angers and upsets him.

This is a powerful argument in favour of his filial love for his mom because if he were indifferent toward her, he would not feel as deeply hurt, confused, and betrayed as he does.

lensor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet is tumultuous in his feelings towards his mother.  He resents her for marrying Claudius and so soon after King Hamlet's death.  He displays anger with her actions in his treatment of her after the performance of The Mousetrap ("Mother, you have my father much offended"). Yet, in Act V, when he sees her swoon after drinking the poisoned wine, Hamlet attacks Claudius and avenges her death. 

His hatred is directly related to her actions; he appears to love her as a son should love his mother.  Her actions have angered and confused him, but Hamlet ultimately reveals a son's love for his mother when he kills Claudius.

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet loves her and so at the beginning of the play is mostly cold to Claudius because she has failed her son: she remarried too quickly, tarnishing the image he has of his parents' love. However, as the play goes on, and Hamlet learns that Claudius killed his father. This disappointment turns to a more intense sense of betrayal and fury at her. Still, he doesn't know how much she knows, hence, the wild accusations in Act III. He's almost mad with anger at her because she betrayed him, her husband the King and the country.

ajf74 | Student

Hamlet doesn't hate Gertrude but is critical--and angry--about how quickly and hastily she married Claudius. Once the ghost of Hamlet's father asserts that Hamlet must avenge his death at the hands of a power-hungry Claudius, Gertrude's marriage to Claudius further complicates an already morally difficult situation. To kill Claudius is, essentially, to kill his mother's husband, a person to whom she is, in some ways, financially and emotionally dependent. This is a text heavily concerned with the complicated nature of human morality and Gertrude is carefully placed in this text to contribute to that exploration. Peripherally, Hamlet is also a descendant of Orestes from Greek mythology who avenged his father's death by killing his mother and agonized because of it.   

zumba96 | Student

Hamlet does not hate Gertrude, however he is appalled at the marriage that has taken place between his mother and his uncle. While he believed his uncle to be a slimy villain, he holds his father to be god like. The struggle he has with himself and his instability of mind he has soon becomes unleashed around others around him including his mother. 

kishta94 | Student

Pro: 1) Because of her remarriage to his father's murderer after only one month.

2) Her weakness and dependence on men, "Frailty, thy name is woman."

3) Her committing incest by marrying his uncle (he gave a lot of importance to religion).

Con: 1) Consider her as another victim of Claudius's corruption.

2) Oedipus complex. Freud believed Hamlet to be in love with his mother.

dhiya | Student

In my point of view Hamlet love his mother very much before his father's death. But after the marriage with Claudius he is highlydissapointed and forsaken by hismother and own uncle (Hamlet's father's brother). And whenHamlet's father's ghost told not to punish Gerude, he realise that there is no mistakesat Gerude.So Hamletonly tried to change his mother's love affair away from the new king Claudius. So he is highly seeked for love by someone. But no one loved Hamlet truly. So thats why he hate his mother

arjun | Student

Hamlet does not hate his mother but he shows povocation on her quick marriage caused his deep shock.When his sorrows cross the limit,he says,Frailty thou thy name of woman.When he meets her he does not use humiliating language.When she drinks the cup of poison unknowingly, he takes her avenge.