Mother not Murderer
There is much discussion on whether Gertrude was in on the plan to get rid of Hamlet and her husband or if she was just caught in the middle of a horrifying scheme. There isn’t much talk about Gertrude as a character and she never really speaks much about her former life with her first husband. The audience is left to come up with their own conclusion about her. There is enough evidence in the play to show that Gertrude was not planning anything against her first husband or Hamlet; she was only married into a mess.
Gertrude does a couple different things in the play that points her to the guilty side, but it may just appear that way out of her concern for Hamlet, who she loves very dearly. In the second scene of the first act, Gertrude is speaking directly to Hamlet saying “Do not forever with thy vailed lids seek for thy noble father in the dust,” meaning that Hamlet should forget about his father because death is natural (I.ii.72-73). It may not seem normal for a mother to say to her son “forget about your father,” Gertrude may simply be saying this so Hamlet will stop looking so sad. Another one of Gertrude’s incriminating acts is when she allows Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet when he first starts acting insane. Gertrude seems to be doing this out of concern for Hamlet’s sanity and not as a part of a plan. She says to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, “…I beseech you instantly to visit my too much changed son” (II.ii.37-38). By pointing out that her son is “changed” shows concern and eludes the fact that the king wants to spy. She makes a point saying “I doubt it is no other but the main- His father’s death and our o’erhasty marriage,” meaning she worries about Hamlet’s sanity, but she’s sure it’s a passing problem (II.ii.59-60). There would be no reason for her to lie about spying on Hamlet in this situation because she was in a scene with people who were scheming. Gertrude unknowingly let her husband send spies to watch Hamlet.
Evidence that shows that Gertrude is innocent to the murder of her husband is when she is watching the play performance that Hamlet put on in the second scene of the third act. Hamlet asks for her opinion about the marriage issue as the Queen in the performance says that she never will remarry and Gertrude responds with “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” (III.ii.254). This is the only issue that involves Gertrude during Hamlet’s play; if she was guilty of planning the Kings murder she would have spoken up just as Claudius did when the poison was mentioned in the performance. Hamlet mentions the poison on stage and Ophelia points out “the King rises” (III.ii.291). This line makes a point to show that only the King stands from the accusation and not the Queen because she probably has nothing to feel guilty about.
In act four, scene seven there is more evidence that shows that Gertrude doesn’t have any part in Hamlet’s demise. The whole scene, Claudius and Laertes are discussing how to kill off Hamlet and Gertrude isn’t there. Both of them stop discussing the plan when the Queen enters the scene to inform them that Laertes sister, Ophelia, has drowned. “One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, so fast they follow. Your sister’s drowned, Laertes,” is said as she enters, not having any idea that they are planning against Hamlet (IV.vii.187-88). If she had anything to do with Hamlet’s fall, she would have been in that scene discussing with them.
Finally, in the final scene of the play when the plan to kill Hamlet is taking place, Gertrude ends up drinking the poisoned wine meant for Hamlet. Claudius tries to stop her, but she insists on drinking to Hamlet’s victory in the fencing round. As she starts to die, she yells out to Hamlet “no, no, the drink, the drink! O, my dear Hamlet! The drink, the drink! I am poisoned” (V.ii.340-41). This is clear evidence that she was never part of any plans and always was looking for Hamlet’s best interest. Even when she’s dieing she has Hamlet know that there is danger. If she had been a part of that plan, even if she did know there was going to be poison, Gertrude would have most likely used her dieing breath to be angry with Claudius for not telling her, not warning Hamlet.
Many different people believe and try to prove that Gertrude is guilty in planning the fall of her husband and her son. The evidence shows that she had no input on the plans to the murders and had a clear, loving relationship with her son. Gertrude is simply an innocent victim caught in the middle of a battle between family members.