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The argument can be made for both forgiving and condemning Gertrude for her actions in Hamlet, so to get you started on this assignment and help you decide for yourself, let's look at the arguments on both sides.

Gertrude marries her brother-in-law, Claudius, only two months after her husband dies. This is really fast, no matter the situation. Mourning customs of the day would likely have required a much longer period of widowhood than Gertrude took, yet Gertrude is the queen, so she can probably make her own decision about that. Her son, Hamlet, however, thinks that his mother married much too quickly, and he tells her so in act 3, scene 4, implying that she married for sex alone.

In the same scene, Gertrude partly admits that she has made a horrible mistake and that she feels that her soul has been blackened because of it. She is feeling the guilt of her hasty marriage, and she promises her son that she will not sleep with Claudius any more. Hamlet is also extremely concerned that his mother has actually committed a form of incest by marrying her husband's brother, and indeed, this would have gone against the social norms of the time. Hamlet speaks of this in the scene just before he confronts his mother, and Hamlet certainly condemns her for her actions.

On the other hand, though, Gertrude may not have had a lot of choice in the matter of marrying Claudius. Women in those days had little control over their lives and relationships. Her husband's death put her in a tight spot. She likely could not run the country in her own right. She needed a man. Hamlet seems the obvious choice, but he is young, and he was grieving heavily for his father. Claudius might have seemed like an easy way out. If she married him, she could remain queen of Denmark and keep her wealth and position.

Gertrude likely had no idea that she was marrying her husband's murderer. She thought her husband had died of natural causes and is shocked and horrified when Hamlet tells her otherwise. In this case, we could argue that Gertrude may, at least in part, be forgiven for her act because she might have felt like she had no other options and because she certainly feels guilty after the fact and knows that she has acted wrongly.

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