Investigate this relationship
How has the relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude been represented and staged?
From the start of the play, Hamlet questions his mother's actions and becomes increasingly angry as Gertrude grows concerned. How and why this is presented on stage changes in every production.
You can take a look at the things to consider here and investigate the different ways we’ve presented Hamlet and Gertrude's relationship on stage at the RSC in this picture gallery.
As you look through the images and photographs from past productions of Hamlet, think about:
- What choices the designer has made for both characters and what that shows you about them. As Hamlet confronts his mother and questions her motives, how does she react? What does each image suggest about Gertrude's attitude towards her son's behaviour?
- How the relationship between mother and son comes across in each production. Are they close? Is their relationship an equal one or does one character seem to have more control over the situation? Why might this be?
- Whether the productions are similar or different. In answering the above, are your responses different for certain production choices? Which ones stand out?
- What you think their relationship was like before Old Hamlet died. The language Hamlet uses when talking to his mother can also be graphic and sexual. What does this tell us about the relationship?
Where would you choose to set a production of Hamlet and what choices would you make to help show what Hamlet and Gertrude are like?
Some psychologists and scholars argue that Hamlet is in love with his mother and, because of this, he is unable to fully love Ophelia. Certain productions in the past have interpreted Hamlet as being in love with his mother and have showed him trying to kiss Gertrude in the confrontation scene in her closet.