A Hamlet timeline – chronicle of events
Setting the Timeline – considerations
Claudius – planning my foul murder
King Hamlet's funeral – where was Hamlet?
Gertrude & Claudius – adultery or not?
Horatio – Hamlet's friend?
Horatio – is he passion's slave?
Polonius – the evil that men do
Ophelia's love? – did she love Hamlet?
Ophelia closetted – Polonius on love
O help xxx ....... – Olivier's version
Ophelia's change – is Hamlet suspicious?
Hamlet feigns madness – protective "cover"
Is Hamlet mad? – Polonius's opinion
The Trial of Claudius – Hamlet's prosecution
Hamlet kills Polonius – stabs the "Voice"
Laertes v Hamlet – poisoned foil
Ophelia's death – a recipe
Hamlet's age – digging up the past
Yorick – something rotting in Denmark
Betting on Hamlet – the fencing match
Hamlet's fencing skill – better than Laertes
Hamlet's revenge – the rest is silence
Gertrude and Claudius
The question of adultery
Because Christianity is central to "Hamlet", Christian religious considerations must be applied to the Claudius/Gertrude adultery issue.
The 7th commandment given to Moses says "Thou shalt not commit adultery." This implies that there must be a physical act. However, in The Sermon on the Mount (gospel of St Matthew) this is clarified by Jesus:
5:27. You have heard that it was said to the ancients, Thou shalt not commit adultery.
In terms of Christianity, therefore, there does not need to be a physical act to commit an adultery. One person alone can be an adulterer. There is no evidence that Claudius and Gertrude had an adulterous relationship. It is only Claudius who has broken the Christian adultery commandment, having done so by his desire for Gertrude. The Ghost repeatedly accuses him quite specifically of adultery. The Ghost never once accuses Gertrude of adultery but only draws attention to her weakness of character in marrying Claudius, thus breaking her solemn vow that she would never remarry.
Claudius said he murdered King Hamlet: (1) to get the crown, and (2) to get Gertrude. If Claudius and Gertrude were having an affair before the murder, then he already has her, therefore, hardly a motive for murder. Getting Gertrude would not be an issue and hardly worth mentioning! Also, if their affair had been going along before the murder why the need for their o'erhasty marriage after the murder? There would be no need to hurry. It is laughable to think they would rush into marriage.
Hamlet's version of "The Murder of Gonzago" is an exact copy of events surrounding King Hamlet's murder. It needs to be exact, otherwise Claudius will not realise that he is being duplicated in the play.
You will note that in the play, Hamlet says "You shall see anon, how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife." Gonzago's wife is faithful to Gonzago, therefore the only way the murderer can get her for himself is to kill Gonzago. With Gonzago's crown and wealth he is able to induce her to break her vow never to remarry and to go with him. Applying this same situation to Claudius and Gertrude produces a scenario without the need for Gertrude to commit adultery:
Gertrude is faithful to King Hamlet. Claudius cannot effect a physical adulterous relationship with her. Claudius is driven by two motives: (1) to get the crown, and (2) to get Gertrude. After killing King Hamlet, Claudius approaches Gertrude and she falls for his inducements and agrees to marry him. He lusts for her but she refuses him — no sex before marriage — she lives by the Christian ethic. He wants her now! — he solves the problem — he marries her straight away in the o'erhasty marriage.