Why do Claudius and Gertrude want Hamlet to stay in Denmark?

Hamlet has a desire to go to Wittenberg but Gertrude and Claudius are against it. Why? No blatantly obvious reason shows up in the text.

One possibility is that both Claudius and Gertrude were in on the murder and want to spy on Hamlet since he would be most apt to revenge if he discovered Claudius‘ treachery.

Along those same lines, they seem to be extra nice to Hamlet hoping to make him never suspect their misdeed: it doesn’t make sense for a mother to pray for her own son to be unlearned; let not thy mother lose her prayers Hamlet…Go not to Wittenberg.

This city boasted a well-respected German university and historically a Protestant one. According to father Hamlet’s Ghost he was confined to fast in fires till the crimes done in his days of nature were burnt and purg’d away. This plea conveys the Catholic ideology of Purgatory. 

The fact that Hamlet wants to go to a Protestant school introduces an interesting caveat:

Shakespeare’s father was a recusant Catholic as historians have long concluded from historical documents. We know Shakespeare belonged to the Holy Trinity Church of England, a Protestant one. Also, Shakespeare never completed university and neither does Hamlet. Is Hamlet a changeling for the great Bard himself?

Gertrude’s desire to have Hamlet stay in Denmark could be trying to indicate that Gertrude is quite sincere, wanting to honor her passed on husband’s memory by insisting Hamlet rather go to a Catholic university; and still having second thoughts on her “o’erhasty marriage.”

We know Shakespeare’s son was named Hamnet; was this play a tribute to his dear son who passed away at the young age of only eleven?

If this is true, it would show the high hopes he had for the boy as one of the last lines of the play is, “for he was likely had he been put on to have prov’d most royal.” Perhaps the last thing Anne Hathaway said to her son was the same farewell Horatio bids the Melancholy Dane:

Good night sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.


One thought on “Why do Claudius and Gertrude want Hamlet to stay in Denmark?

  1. Your analysis of Why Hamlet did not go to Wittenberg is very interesting. Thanks for visiting my blog. Glad you liked the story, ‘Shakespeare’s Will.’ This seems to be the preferred title so far


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