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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 166


     I reluctantly pass by Polonius, Laertes and the beautiful character of Horatio, to say something in conclusion of the Queen and the King.

     The answers to two questions asked about the Queen are, it seems to me, practically certain. (1) She did not merely marry a second time with indecent haste; she was false to her husband while he lived. This is surely the most natural interpretation of the words of the Ghost (I. v. 41 f.), coming, as they do, before his account of the murder. And against this testimony what force has the objection that the queen in the 'Murder of Gonzago' is not represented as an adulteress? Hamlet's mark in arranging the play-scene was not his mother, whom besides he had been expressly ordered to spare (I. v. 84 f.).

     (2) On the other hand, she was not privy to the murder of her husband, either before the deed or after it. There is no sign of her being so, and there are clear signs that she was not. The representation of the murder in the play-scene does not move her; and when her husband starts from his throne, she innocently asks him, 'How fares my lord?' In the interview with Hamlet, when her son says of his slaughter of Polonius,

'A bloody deed!' Almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king and marry with his brother,

the astonishment of her repetition 'As kill a king!' is evidently genuine; and, if it had not been so, she would never have had the hardihood to exclaim:

What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me?

Further, it is most significant that when she and the King speak together alone, nothing that is said by her or to her implies her knowledge of the secret.

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