Did Gertrude kill Ophelia?

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Did Gertrude kill Ophelia? I think she might have since she relied on Ophers to get why her son was mad and how they could cure him, but Ophers only neglected her son4s love and then brought trouble to her by going insane. It4s not like Gertrude is a saint anyway, she married a guy in less than a month after her husband4s death. So...did Gerty kill Ophers?

-- Larissa (tvmaniac31@hotmail.com), November 30, 1999


Well, that's an interesting proposition. I mean, it's entirely *possible* that that could have happened. It's also entirely possible that Hamlet could have killed Ophelia by drowning her in the brook as Gerty watched on and then told her to tell Claudius that it was suicide. Or maybe... It is nice to speculate on what *may* have been but with these kinds of incorrigible arguments, who can deny or refute it? Can't prove it using the text. In that case, there isn't much to do but believe G's retelling of the suicide. She doesn't say much as it is. Now the question of why G. didn't run to the rescue as she watched Oph. drowning is a different matter...

I think Polonius and Claudius were more interested in getting to the bottom of Ham's madness than Gertrude was; it was P.'s idea to use Oph. as bait in the first place.

Yes, it's possible, but not likely! :)

-- Virginia (vleong@attglobal.net), December 01, 1999.

I think the only actual evidence, within the text of the play, against this proposition is where Gertrude, scattering flowers on Ophelia's coffin, says, "I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife." Would a mother murder the woman she had hoped her son would wed? Was she covering up the murder? Again, possible but not likely.

-- gkandia (gkandia@prodigy.net), December 12, 1999.

I think it very unlikely that Gertrude actually killed Ophelia. However, I do believe that she allowed her to die. Her detailed account of Ophelia's death makes me think that she was present at the time. Ok, you say, maybe Gertie can't swim. She's the queen - don't tell me she can't call for help. From her point of view, Hamlet is gone and now (because of his crime) not likely to be the successor to the throne and Ophelia is three bricks shy of a load and no longer a good candidate for the position of daughter-in-law. This knowledge, combined with her own sense of guilt, makes it easier just to let the loonie drown.

Oh, here's a thought. Suppose she was protecting Hamlet from the pain of seeing Ophelia nutty (and knowing that he had a part in it) and just stood by and watched her sink. After all, what would Hamlet have done if he had seen Ophelia in that state?

-- mikken (mikken@neo.rr.com), December 13, 1999.

I think that that question could be true. I think that because Gertrude saw Ophelia drowing why couldn't she have helped her or even ask people to go out and help her. Maybe it was for Ophelia's own good for her to kill herself since she was looney and had no person to live by(Hamlet or Polonius).

-- Krystal Negrete (krystal_1100@yahoo.com), January 24, 2001.

I do not believe Gertrude killed Ophelia. There are many parallels between Gertrude and Ophelia's character; Ophelia is almost a younger Gertrude. I believe Gertrude sees this, for she does not wish to see Ophelia when Horatio (or in some editions, a Gentleman) tells her Ophelia has gone mad. Many say this is because she does not want to deal with Ophelia, but I believe it is because Gertrude does not want to face the possibility of herself going mad, were she to lose the person she relies on most (Claudius). Now, Hamlet had killed Polonius while intending to kill Claudius, so Gertrude probably thinks it's quite likely that Hamlet would try to kill Claudius again, and maybe even succeed, in which case she would be in the same position as Ophelia.

-- anonymous (anonymous@anonymous.com), November 16, 2001.

My, what wanton fancies we do have.

I think its fairly clear that Gertrude is gentle, refined, needs a man's support and leadership, thinks little for herself and acts less. I get the feeling she'd have trouble killing a cockroach, let alone a young, innocent, crazed girl.

Now did she watch Ophelia drown and not help? I seriously doubt it. Laertes doesn't seem to think so, does he? And there's no mention of her in connection with the inquest. truth is her reporting of the drowning is a dramatic tool. The drowning can't be shown on a stage, but WS wants the audience to know in this detail how Ophelia died: it is so apt to her situation. All the circumstances which Gertrude relates could be construed after the event from the evidence of the wreaths, the broken branch, her body being found downstrean from the willow.

The exception is Ophelia's singing songs as she floats downstream. But these could be heard by field workers without realizing she was in any danger.

Gertrude is unlikely to have been an eyewitness. Indeed why precisely would she be down at the brook while the boy who earlier wanted to kill her husband is shut up in conference with her husband talking about her son's murder of the boy's father. She's more likely wringing her hands on the other side of the door. But she's a suitable person to take the news from those who discover the dead Ophelia to Ophelia's brother, both in character as a sort of surrogate mother, and dramatically so that she can react to Claudius' selfish response to the death.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), December 06, 2001.

I like what catherine england had to say. However, pherhaps gertrude was the eye witness to ophelia's death. First, the way she enters the room with the news of ophelia's death seems like she is in shock. When asked the news, she blerts out that ophelia has drowned. The picture that she paints is so vivid that it is almost as if she is trying to piece together what has happened. The opening line "there is a willow grows aslant a brook..." seems to me like she is describing a place where she knows, where she goes perhaps to think; a secret place others do not know about. Due to the parallels between ophelia and gertrude it is a sweet image; the two of them in the same secret spot of comfort. It is interesting to note that at the end of the speech, gertrude almost becomes ophelia as she describes the final moments before her death; unknowing. This would make a beautiful literary parallel between the two. I don't think gertrude wanted ophelia to die if she witnessed the accident and subsiquent drowning. She has great fondness for ophelia. Due to all the madness around gertrude and the danger that is to come, her love for ophelia in this secluded place perhaps alows gertrude to alow ophelia to go to rest peacfully. Kind of like a final female bond; the men won't change and I don't want to see you hurt anymore (the whole time knowing ophelia will never get well.) If she witnessed the death, she most likely did call out to ophelia, but if the water was deep enough to pull ophelia to a "muddy death," and presumably the water in a stream is flowing, the undertoe would suck ophelia under, and any other heavily dressed woman, who, at this time, could not swim. If the place was secluded, no amount of yelling for help could aide the situation. I know that this is overthinking the scene, as in shakespeare's theatre, gertrude is serving as chorus. However, as an actor, when I was gertrude, this thinking helped enourmously to move the story forward. It gave me, as a human being in the story, a reason to paint the piture as I do. With this vision in my head I was able to actively pursue something from laertes and my husband.

-- jz (zallarla@hotmail.com), September 18, 2002.

To me Gertrude could have killed Ophelia, if she was jealous of the whole situation occurring with Her "son" Hamlet. It has been suggested to me by various Shakespearean fans that having Gertrude depicted as a younger woman, (as she most times is) suggests or leads one to believe that she may not have been Hamlets birth mother.Hamlets father could have remarried. Which in turn could lead one to believe that they have a different bond then the normal mother son relationship. I'm not saying much, just let your mind think this one out and let me know what you think.

-- Lani Loewen (LadyOpinionated@hotmail.com), April 10, 2003.

The obvious is the only thing for certain- that Shakespeare did not stage the scene, and therefore no one knows. However, all other just punishments were given as the crimes were exposed at the resolve of the play, in order to purge the evil, and cleanse the situation. If Gertrude had indeed killed someone, she would have recieved a harsher death, and also her crime would have been exposed along with everyone elses.

-- Whitney Rhodes (prettykittyw_claws@hotmail.com), March 22, 2004.

i personally believe that gertrude killed ophelia. #1 gertrude was looking for a way to keep hamlet as "hers". she didnt want anyother woman taking her little boy away. hamlet wasnt giving gertrude enough attention. #2 ophelia wasnt "high class" enough for hamlet or gertrude. she didnt want hamlet to love someone that wasnt high class. #3 she could have known that the only reason claudius was with her was to be king. if not he could have easily gotten her and hamlet killed also which would make him king. therefore she wouldnt have loved claudius and the only male she'd love would have been her son. i mean after all it claudius and gertrude didnt seem to have a good love life. in the end notice the saying claudius said to gertrude when she was about to drink the poison..."gertrude, do not drink". notice the punctuations...there no exclamation mark which would mean he cared. instead he let her drink as if he didnt. i understand why some people are saying shakespeare made gerturde tell in detail how ophelia died. but! couldnt he have just gotten the narrator to say it? or have it an off comment where just the people off stage heard so they could understand?

-- liz (anarchypunk66966@aol.com), May 24, 2004.

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