Saturday, February 07, 2009

Carolyn Heilbrun 1926-2003

"To understand Gertrude properly, it is only necessary to examine the lines Shakespeare has chosen for her to say. She is, except for her description of Ophelia's death, concise and pithy in speech, with a talent for seeing the essence of every situation presented before her eyes. If she is not profound, she is certainly never silly. We first hear her ask Hamlet to stop wearing black, to stop walking about with his eyes downcast, and to realize that death is an inevitable part of life. She is, in short, asking him not to give way to the passion of grief, a passion of whose force and dangers the Elizabethans are aware..."

-Carolyn Heilbrun, Hamlet's Mother and Other Women

Heilbrun was an English professor at Columbia for thirty three years, wrote academic works, mysteries (under the name Kate Fansler) and feminist criticism. I think she is spot on about Queen Gertrude.

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