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In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Gertrude is Hamlet's mother and Queen of Denmark. Her relationship with Hamlet is somewhat turbulent, since he resents her marrying her husband's brother Claudius after he murdered the king (young Hamlet's father, King Hamlet). Gertrude reveals no guilt in her marriage with Claudius after the recent murder of her husband, and Hamlet begins to show signs of jealousy towards Claudius. According to Hamlet, she scarcely mourned her husband's death before marrying Claudius.

Her name may derive from Gertrude of Bavaria, who was Queen of Denmark in the late 12th century.

In the 1919 essay "Hamlet and his problems" T. S. Eliot suggests that the main cause of Hamlet's internal dilemma is Gertrude's sinful behaviour. He states, "Shakespeare's Hamlet... is a play dealing with the effect of a mother's guilt upon her son."[5]

In 1924, th

In 1924, the social reformer Lillie Buffum Chace Wyman published a study, Gertrude of Denmark: An Interpretive Romance, an early attempt to give Gertrude's own perspective on her life and the events of the play. Wyman explicitly "interrogates the nineteenth-century cult of the self-sacrificing mother", critiquing the influence it had on interpretations of the play by both male critics and actresses playing Gertrude.[6]

In the 1940s, Ernest Jones—a psychoanalyst and Freud's biographer—developed Freud's ideas into a series of essays that culminated in his book Hamlet and Oedipus (1949). Influenced by Jones's psychoanalytic approach, several productions have portrayed the "closet scene",[7] where Hamlet confronts his mother in her private quarters, in a sexual light. In this reading, Hamlet is disgusted by his mother's "incestuous" relationship with Claudius while simultaneously fearful of killing him, as this would clear Hamlet's path to his mother's bed.

Carolyn Heilbrun's 1957 essay "Hamlet's Mother" defends Gertrude, arguing that the text never hints that Gertrude knew of Claudius poisoning King Hamlet. This analysis has been championed by many feminist critics.[8] Heilbrun argued that men have for centuries completely misinterpreted Gertrude, believing what Hamlet said about her rather than the actual text of the play. By this account, no clear evidence suggests that Gertrude is an adulteress: she is merely adapting to the circumstances of her husband's death for the good of the kingdom.[9]

Women were almost exclusively banned from appearing as actresses on the stage until approximately 1660 and in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, troupes appeared that were composed entirely of boy players. Indeed, they are famously mentioned in Hamlet, in which a group of travelling actors has left the city due to rivalry with a troupe of "little eyases" (unfledged hawks).[10][11]

Eileen Herlie portrayed Gertrude in Laurence Olivier's 1948 Hamlet.

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Eileen Herlie portrayed Gertrude in Laurence Olivier's 1948 Hamlet.

Glenn Close played mother to Mel Gibson in the Franco Zeffirelli's 1990 Hamlet.

Julie Christie appeared as Gertrude in Kenneth Branagh's 1996 Hamlet. Despite her classical training as an actor, it was her first-ever venture into Shakespeare.

In Michael Almereyda's 2000 Hamlet, Ethan Hawke plays Hamlet as a film student, while Diane Venora portrays Gertrude, wife to the former and present CEOs of "Denmark Corporation".

In the 2009 adaptation starring David Tennant, Gertrude is portrayed by Penny Downie.

In Ryan Imhoff's Chicago production of "The Hamlet Project", Gertrude is played by critically acclaimed actress Angela Morris.[12]

Tabu played Gertrude who was named Ghazala in the 2014 acclaimed Bollywood adaptation of Hamlet, Haider.

In Heiner Müller's vanguard play Hamletmachine, Gertrude is referred to "the bitch who bore" Hamlet.

Naomi Watts portrayed Gertrude in Claire McCarthy's 2018 Ophelia.

Gertrude and Claudius, a John Updike novel, serves as a prequel to the events of the play. It follows Gertrude from her wedding to King Hamlet, through an affair with Claudius, and its murderous results, until the very beginning of the play. Gertrude also appears as a character in Howard Barker's Gertrude—The Cry, which uses some of the characters from Hamlet.

Hamlet has played "a relatively small role"[13] in the appropriation of Shakespeare's plays by women writers. Margaret Atwood's "Gert

Hamlet has played "a relatively small role"[13] in the appropriation of Shakespeare's plays by women writers. Margaret Atwood's "Gertrude Talks Back", in her 1992 collection of short stories Good Bones, sees the title character setting her son straight about Old Hamlet's murder: "It wasn't Claudius, darling, it was me!"[13][14]

The character of Gemma Teller Morrow on the FX show Sons of Anarchy, which incorporates plot elements from Hamlet, is influenced by and shares many traits with Queen Gertrude.