Gertrude’s Transformations: Against Patriarchal Authority

Mohammad Safaei, Ruzy Suliza Hashim

Abstract


Gertrude’s characterization in Hamlet is extensively analyzed with regard to her infidelity, promiscuity, and ostensibly virtuous nature. Further, much criticism on Gertrude is based on the content of Hamlet and the Ghost’s parlance which is male-oriented in perspective. Within the domain of revisioning literature, Gertrude and the characters who have assumed a role resembling that of Gertrude have been subject to a variety of transformations. The present article intends to explore these transformations in two twenty-first century novels: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (2009) and The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig (2006). Gertrude’s new characterization is analyzed with regard to three features: ecstasy, motherhood, and agency. Whereas Gertrude’s agency in Hamlet is conjectural and though her soundness of mind and her personality as a responsible mother are questioned in the play, the two female characters in these two novels reveal new dimensions which starkly distinguish them from Gertrude’s Shaksepearean characterization. Further, it is argued that these new revisionings of Hamlet should not be construed as mere responses to the original text, but also to the idea that Shakespeare has provided the ultimate representations of humanity. As such, the new characterization of Gertrude is subversive of both the patriarchal voice within the Shakespearean text and some portion of the contemporary social text which believes in the superiority of Shakespeare’s thought.


Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5539/ells.v2n4p83

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English Language and Literature Studies   ISSN 1925-4768 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4776 (Online)

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