Gertrude, Queen of Denmark

Hamlet's mother, King Claudius' wife, King Hamlet's widow
[This is an annotated list of all appearances and all mentions of this character.]

Janet Zarish as Queen Gertrude
and Jeffrey Carlson as Hamlet

Glenn Close as Queen Gertrude

The Queen in Hamlet (c. 1897) Edwin Austin Abbey

The King describes her as "our sometime sister, now our queen, / The imperial jointress to this warlike state" (1.2.8-9). She appears with her new husband, the King, as he justifies their marriage to the court. Later in the scene she tries to talk Hamlet out of dwelling on his father, and into seeing the new king as a father. [Scene Summary]

Hamlet says, "she would hang on him" (1.2.143), describing the loving relationship between his mother and father. This appears in Hamlet's first soliloquy, in which he expresses his disgust with the idea that his mother is now sleeping with his uncle. [Scene Summary]

King Claudius "won to his shameful lust / The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen" (1.5.45-46). This is the beginning of the Ghost's denunciation of Gertrude, particularly her sexual relationship with Claudius. [Scene Summary]

"Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught" (1.5.85-86). After his denunciation of Gertrude, the Ghost delivers this seemingly-impossible instruction to Hamlet. After what the Ghost has said, how could Hamlet's mind not be tainted against his mother? [Scene Summary]

"Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" (2.2.1). Gertrude seconds the King's request that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find out what's wrong with Hamlet. Later in the scene, when the King asks Gertrude's opinion about the cause of Hamlet's condition, she sensibly says, "I doubt it is no other but the main; / His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage" (2.2.56-57). [Scene Summary]

"Did he receive you well?" (3.1.10), Gertrude asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about her son. Later in the scene she hopes that Ophelia's "virtues" will cure Hamlet's madness. [Scene Summary]

"Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me" (3.2.108). The Queen attends the performance of The Murder of Gonzago, but the only notable thing she has to say is "The lady protests too much, methinks" (3.2.230). Also, Hamlet makes a sarcastic comment about how "cheerfully" she looks. At the end of the scene, Hamlet says "I will speak daggers to her, but use none" (3.2.396), as he is on his way to speak with his mother. [Scene Summary]

"My lord, he's going to his mother's closet" (3.3.27), Polonius reports to the King. Later in the scene, the King tells himself that "I am still possess'd / Of those effects for which I did the murder, / My crown, mine own ambition and my queen" (3.3.53-55), and therefore he cannot repent his murder of his brother. [Scene Summary]

"He will come straight. Look you lay home to him" (3.4.1), Polonius instructs the Queen, at the opening of the scene in her closet, during which Hamlet kills Polonius and speaks to the Ghost. [Scene Summary]

"There's matter in these sighs, these profound heaves" (4.1.1), says the King to the Queen at the beginning of the scene in which she tells him that Hamlet has killed Polonius. The Queen tells the King that Hamlet is mad and "weeps for what is done" (4.1.27). She appears to be lying about Hamlet weeping. [Scene Summary]

"How stand I then, / That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd" (4.4.56-57), Hamlet says in a soliloquy, as he once again asks himself why he has yet to take revenge on King Claudius. [Scene Summary]

"I will not speak with her" (4.5.1), says the Queen to Horatio, about mad Ophelia. But she does speak to her. Later in the scene, when Laertes bursts in and threatens the King, the Queen tries to protect her husband. [Scene Summary]

"The queen his mother / Lives almost by his looks; and for myself-- / My virtue or my plague, be it either which-- / She's so conjunctive to my life and soul, / That, as the star moves not but in his sphere, / I could not but by her" (4.7.11-16), says the King to Laertes, as he is explaining why he did not bring Hamlet to account for the killing of Polonius. The King has reason to lie to Laertes, but perhaps he does indeed feel that his wife is what makes his life worth living. [Scene Summary]

"Sweets to the sweet: farewell! / I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife" (5.1.243-244), says the Queen, as she scatters flowers at Ophelia's funeral. When Hamlet comes rushing in and grapples with Laertes in the grave, the Queen excuses him by saying that "This is mere madness." [Scene Summary]

"He's fat [sweaty], and scant of breath. / Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows; / The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet" (5.2.287-289). Thus the Queen shows her affection for her son during his fencing match with Laertes. Unfortunately for her, the cup of wine with which she "carouses" is the one which the King had poisoned and given to Hamlet. [Scene Summary]