The Queen of Denmark, Queen Gertrude, plays a vital role in the play Hamlet, not only with her physical presence but also through her interaction with others and apparent ulterior motives. Queen Gertrude’s actions are just a few of the sneaky and deceitful actions of the play so this vision will be based on an array of actions carried out by the characters and the potential devious meanings behind those actions.
Since I envision Queen Gertrude as a clever and secretive character, I would choose actress Julie Andrews Julie Andrews to play the role of Queen Gertrude. Her gentle, innocent looks combined with her abilities portray a secretive conniving attitude, makes her the perfect fit for this character. The play will take place during the same time period of the original text, around the 17th century because it allows for more of a traditional and elegant feel. There are specific moments of the play that reveal crucial elements of Queen Gertrude’s true character and for each of those moments the queen will take on a different appearance and present her lines in various tones, but in general, she will usually be dressed in a formal gown, with a short, clean cut hair style, faint amounts of makeup, and jewelry, all to emphasize her royalty and desire for power.
In act one scene two, the readers learn that Hamlet is grieving over the loss of his father and it is clear that the king is very unsympathetic to Hamlet’s feelings because he says, “ ‘Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,/ To give these mourning duties to your father./ But you must know your father lost a father… But to persever/ In obstinate condolement is a course/ Of impious stubbornness, ‘tis unmanly grief…”(87-94) The king speaks to Hamlet in a nonchalant and demeaning tone because he calls him unmanly for grieving for such a long period of time. The queen, however, is seen as comforting and accepting at this moment because in a soft and inviting tone, she says, “Let thy mother not lose her prayers, Hamlet,/ I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.” (191-120)Queen Gertrude’s motherly instincts come out as she seems to worry about her son’s well being and hopes that he stays in Denmark so at least he will be close to her. In this scene, they are located in the castle and since it is late at night, Gertrude’s costume would be a long, simple, pink, silky nightgown. The length of her nightgown is important because it shows she is conservative, but the silky texture shows that she is wealthy. The pink color emphasizes the fact that she is to be portrayed as caring and sympathetic towards her son. She also would not have on any make-up because it expresses her motherly attributes and that although she is royalty, she is not always dressed fancy, especially when she is rushing to make sure her son is doing well.
By act two scene two, Queen Gertrude begins to act suspicious as many characters tell her that Hamlet has gone mad. She then call upon Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two people she considered close friends of Hamlet, to talk with him and find out the cause of this alleged insanity. As she says, “Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz … I beseech you instantly to visit/ My too much changed son.” (34-35) she delivers these lines in a hurried tone because she is now even more worried about her son. However, her sneaky ways shine through slightly because the two people she sent to check on Hamlet, later proved to be unloyal characters. In this scene, the queen would be dressed in fancier clothing because she is now in the presence of others. She would wear a long, straight, green dress that is not too formal but one that shows she does hold a great amount of power in the castle. She would also wear makeup and have her hair nicely done because it gives a more elegant and proper appearance. After Guildenstern and Rosencrantz leave, she begins to speak with the king but in a powerful tone because the king is more set in his ways of thinking that Hamlet is completely insane. In response to the king telling Gertrude that Polonius has figured out the cause of Hamlet’s insanity, she tells him, “I doubt it is no other but the main,/ His father’s death and out [o’erhasty] marriage.”(56-57) The queen is slightly offended by the accusations and hastily informs the king that he probably has much to do with Hamlet’s swift change in behavior. There would also be music playing at this moment, one that has a fast tempo and abrupt, staccato sounds. The music would play when the queen begins to speak and at a medium volume and its sole purpose would be to emphasize the queens angered feelings toward the king because she feels he should take some of the blame for Hamlet’s new behavior instead of casting it off as if it is all Hamlet’s doing. This scene shows how unpredictable Gertrude can act.
The readers begin to see a completely different side of the queen and begin to wonder if the queen should be trusted after they uncover the truth behind Queen Gertrude and King Claudius’ marriage. Her actions could be seen as cold because in a short two months after the death of Hamlet’s father, Gertrude married his brother, Claudius. The queen could have done this in order to maintain Hamlet’s status as prince or she could have had ulterior motives and marred the king so she could keep her power over Denmark. With that, the character of Queen Gertrude would have to carry an arrogant and sneaky attitude with her all throughout the play, which causes the viewers to constantly question her motives.
Gertrude’s character now takes a drastic change, which allows the viewers to really see how I envision the queen to been a conniving person and this occurs just prior to and moments after Ophelia’s death. Things start to connect after the king speaks upon Ophelia’s present condition and how she too is now acting insane, he says, “…all from her father’s death – and now behold… next, your son gone, and he most violent author…” (75-79) The queen now sees the king’s real intentions of wanting Hamlet dead because he has caused so much destruction to Denmark. With Ophelia’s change in behavior and connections being made to Hamlet, such as Hamlet sending her love letters in the beginning of the play and even then the queen denied it, she had to get everyone to believe Ophelia was just acting insane on her own account. There is no better way to have this done by claiming Ophelia mysteriously drowned.
Suspiciously enough, the queen was the first person to report Ophelia’s death and she did so with such detail, “there is a willow grows askaunt the brook,/ That shows his hoary leaves in the glassy stream,/ Therewith fantastic garlands did she make…” (166-168) In addition, the queen would present her lines in such a tone of calamity and ease that the viewers will suspect the queen killed Ophelia. In act five scene one, the queen is shown throwing flowers on her grave and the stage direction would show her as simply throwing the flowers anywhere and in an aggressive manner as she says, “Sweets to the sweet, farewell! … I thought thy bridge bed to have decked sweet maid,/ And not have strew’d thy grave.” (229-232) Her tone would be cheerful and there would be quite, joyful music playing in the background. The music is important because its quite volume reflects her inner feelings of satisfaction and simultaneously contrasts the dark and gloomy setting, with dead trees scattered around and an eerie feeling to reflect the uncertainty many felt about where Ophelia should be buried. setting
My vision of having the viewers believe the queen is conniving and clever would be complete by act five scene two when she drinks the poison intended for Hamlet. Although the king told the queen not to drink the wine, she said to him, “I will, my Lord, I pray you pardon me” (273) and she delivers these lines in a quite tone, one that shows she accepts the fact that she knowingly is about to kill herself. Her words imply that she hopes the king will forgive her and her actions are viewed as courageous for dying to save her son, however, her cleverness prevails once again because she knows her actions thus far will not lead her to heave, however, her tone and slow movements allude to the idea that she hopes her final solemn actions will be viewed as repentance and allow her to go to heaven.