Gertrude – Hamlet: ISFP

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Gertrude - Hamlet ISFP | Hamlet MBTI

Dominant Fi: Hamlet’s Ghost mentions a “falling-off” between himself and Gertrude to Gertrude and Claudius (1.5.9), which suggests, but doesn’t necessarily conclude that she was cheating prior to his death. The Ghost never accuses her of murder, which suggests that we can’t assume she knew about Claudius’s murder plot, but he does accuse her of adultery. Furthermore, after Hamlet’s death, Gertrude isn’t wracked by the same prolonged sadness that young Hamlet is, which tells us that she was acting of her own devises (and that the adultery referred to was not incest and likely did not occur prior to Hamlet’s death). From this, I infer that Gertrude’s motivations are primarily derived within herself and are not changed by other people’s opinions. It takes her son going mad and killing a man to get her to admit to any guilt in the matter. Gertrude loves her son deeply, and continues to try to protect him even after he says cruel things, lashing out in anger at her.

Gertrude - Hamlet ISFP | Hamlet MBTI

Auxiliary Se: Gertrude has a need for new and delightful things. She loves fine apparel, “warm baths” and has an active sex-life. This of course, enrages her son Hamlet, who feels that she has betrayed the trust of his late father. As a result, he becomes obsessed, believing that all women are whores… not necessarily an accurate conclusion. Gertrude doesn’t always understand other people, and has an especially difficult time trying to understand what she has done to make Hamlet so angry at her. Gertrude sees most of the things that Hamlet values as a waste of time –philosophy, theoretical thinking etc. Where her son looks at life through the peep-hole in his head, she prefers to look at life through a lens of action and experience.

Gertrude - Hamlet ISFP | Hamlet MBTI

Tertiary Ni: Gertrude does not completely neglect the consequences of her actions, but rather, lies to herself about them, distorting them through rationalization. She has a tendency to produce many white lies in attempt to protect herself and those around her. For instance, she knows that she has to tell Claudius that Hamlet has killed Polonius, but when she does, she lies saying that he “weeps for what is done,” though Hamlet’s true attitude about the incident is much the opposite.

Gertrude - Hamlet ISFP | Hamlet MBTIInferior Te: Gertrude is capable of organizing people to a cause when she sees the need for it. She delegates the task of finding out what’s up with Hamlet’s behavior to his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but since her methods aren’t particularly out-of-the-box, Hamlet sees through them immediately.

There are loads of things that we will never know about Gertrude, simply because they are never revealed in the text of the play. For instance, does she know that Claudius killed her husband? Does she know about his plots to kill her son when she drinks the poisoned wine? etc.

Because of this, Gertrude is an extremely difficult character to assign any personality to, but since I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, I’ve done my best to type her anyway.

Oh, and if anyone’s wondering why I went with ISFP vs ESFP, it’s because I see much more Fi in her than Se. She hardly ever mentions her personal feelings at all, and all of her Se-actions are motivated purely by this Fi. Also, her Te is definitely higher up in hierarchy than her Ni…she’s very un-intuitive.

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