Is Hamlet attracted to his mother?

Answered by Robert Flynn

Hamlet’s relationship with his mother, Queen Gertrude, is undoubtedly complex and at times, it can be argued that there is a level of attraction present. While it is important to approach this topic with sensitivity and acknowledge the cultural context of Shakespeare’s play, it is clear that Hamlet’s love for his mother goes beyond the typical mother-son relationship.

Throughout the play, Hamlet’s thoughts and actions are heavily influenced by his love for Gertrude. He is driven by a desire to protect her, to seek justice for his father’s murder, and ultimately, to win her affection. This deep love for his mother becomes a primary force in his life, shaping his decisions and emotions.

At times, Hamlet’s love for Gertrude takes on a romantic and even sexual nature. In Act I, Scene II, he expresses his deep grief over his father’s death and his mother’s hasty marriage to his uncle Claudius. He compares his father to Hyperion, a Greek god known for his beauty, and contrasts him with Claudius, describing him as a “satyr” (a mythological creature associated with lust). This juxtaposition suggests that Hamlet sees his father as a symbol of nobility and purity, while Claudius represents base desires.

Furthermore, in Act III, Scene IV, during the famous “closet scene,” Hamlet confronts his mother about her relationship with Claudius. In the midst of their heated exchange, he becomes increasingly aggressive and, at times, sexually explicit. He urges Gertrude to “throw away the worser part of [her] nature,” implying that her relationship with Claudius is tainted and immoral. This language suggests a fusion of anger, jealousy, and sexual tension.

While it is important to note that Shakespeare may have used these sexual undertones to provoke a reaction from the audience, it is undeniable that Hamlet’s feelings towards his mother go beyond the realm of a typical mother-son bond. His love for Gertrude becomes intertwined with his anger, grief, and desire for revenge, leading to a complex mix of emotions.

It is worth mentioning that interpretations of Hamlet’s relationship with his mother may vary among scholars and audiences. Some may argue that the sexual undertones are more a reflection of Hamlet’s psychological state rather than genuine attraction. Others may see it as a deliberate choice by Shakespeare to explore the complexity of human emotions and relationships.

While it is evident that Hamlet’s love for his mother, Queen Gertrude, is a driving force in his life, whether or not there is a genuine attraction between them is open to interpretation. The play presents a complex web of emotions, including anger, grief, and desire, which intertwine with Hamlet’s love for his mother. These emotions, at times, manifest themselves in sexual undertones, adding to the multifaceted nature of their relationship.