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Gertrude: Hamlet’s mother and Claudius’s wife. In the beginning of the play, a radiant beauty, desperate to believe that the new marriage and the new order will work, in the throws of passion that she never experienced with her stern first husband. She craves respect from her son, yet she squandered it by marrying Claudius (and knows it). By the end of the play, physically deteriorated, haunted, and broken. She knows what she is doing when she drinks the potion at the end.