Hamlet features many characters, among which Gertrude is the crucial heroine. She is presented as a multifaceted character, plus her portrait changes throughout the play. However, Act 4 shows her as defensive, as Hamlet made her see her marriage’s misfortune. In some cases, Gertrude appears nervous and indecisive.
Gertrude is an ever-developing person, and it can be seen throughout the acts. The relationships with her son, Hamlet, and a husband, King Claudius, reveal it best.
In Act 1, she encourages and cheers up Hamlet, saddened by losing his father. Gertrude is immensely caring when her son wants to leave for unknown reasons. Her motivation and intentions are ambiguous, as she does not have any monologues.
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
(Act 1, Scene 2)
Act 2 shows that the woman is two-faced due to her hesitancy concerning loving two people. She is shown sexual, and her son rejects such behavior. He also hates her marriage with King Claudius, considering it a betrayal. Hamlet sees her quick remarrying as a display of her selfishness. The first two acts represent Gertrude as a shallow creature, thinking about external pleasures. Act 3 still depicts her as a caring mother who wants other people to heal her son from suffering.
Act 4 reveals new traits of the character. Gertrude is anxious and frantic in after a conversation with her son. She runs to King Claudius and reports that Hamlet killed Polonius. As a result, she starts acting kindly and affectionately, especially at Ophelia’s funeral. Her men forgive her comfort-loving and pleasure-obsessed nature and understand her innocence.