Gertrude and Cultural Portrayals of the Female Quest for Power

Faculty Sponsor

Betsy Burow-Flak


Arts and Sciences


English Department

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-2-2015


In the opening scenes of Hamlet, the main character displays lament over his father’s death as well as his mother's untimely marriage. Shakespeare’s text can have readers believing that Gertrude is content with her new marriage to Claudius and has taken a passive role in becoming his wife. However, various performances and cultural adaptations of Hamlet portray Gertrude as a woman out for power in a similar manner to that of her new spouse, Claudius. Taking a closer look at Gertrude on stage in The Al-Hamlet Summit, as well as Gertrude adapted for the screen in the Chinese film The Legend of the Black Scorpion, calls for further comparison. With an English adaptation serving as a reference, all three of these versions can shed some light on what it means for women to achieve power, or have very little power, throughout different parts of the world. By examining which elements of Gertrude's character are either added or removed in each film also allows viewers to conclude what qualities are vital to the development throughout a woman's quest for power in different locations and places in time.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Ashley Hornung is a senior from Shorewood, Illinois. Ashley is an English and communication double major with plans to attend law school in the fall of 2015. Although she was exposed to the works of William Shakespeare throughout junior high and high school, Ashley has taken two English courses at Valparaiso University that have encouraged in-depth Shakespeare scholarship, including the English 493 course that prompted her to research global portrayals of Gertrude.

This document is currently not available here.