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Who is Gertrude, Really?

Teachers' Rating:
  11 ratings


February 2004
Karen Behm teaches English at the Career Education Center in Denver, Colorado.

Plays/Scenes Covered
This lesson covers the entirety of Hamlet but focuses specifically on 1.2, 3.4, 5.1, and 5.2.
What's On for Today and Why
Students will form their own opinions about Gertrude by imaginatively creating entries for Gertrude's journal. Each journal entry will reveal much about Gertrude's character at pivotal moments in the play.
What You Need



Folger edition of Hamlet
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

What To Do
1. Students will need to finish reading Hamlet before they begin.
2. Ask students to write five one-page journal entries as if they were Gertrude. They will be asked to write the entries based on her state of mind at these specific times:

a. The night before she married Hamlet, Sr. What were the thoughts running through her mind? Was she a willing participant? What qualities (positive and negative) did Hamlet possess? What are her hopes for the future?

 b. The night before Hamlet, Jr., went away to college. What is her life like now? What is her relationship with Hamlet, Sr? What are her hopes for the future?

 c. The night before her wedding to Claudius. (Reread Act 1, Scene 2 before you write.) What are her feelings about the death of Hamlet, Sr., and her upcoming marriage? Did she help in the murder, or was she innocent?

 d. The night that Polonius is killed, when Hamlet talks to her in her bedroom and sees the ghost of his father. (Reread Act 3, Scene 4 before you write.) What does she think about the unfolding events? What is her reaction to Hamlet's remarks and questions? What does she think will happen next?

 e. The night before she dies. (Reread all of Act 5 first.) Does she feel like she had a hand in the events, or is she an innocent bystander? What are her feelings about Claudius now? What does she think Hamlet will do? What does the future hold for her? How would she like to be remembered?

How Did It Go?
Did students show overall knowledge of the play? Did they address the questions in the lesson completely? Did they add extra details from the play into the journal entries? Were they able to write in Gertrude's voice?

If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.

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