There have been many women in history who are known today by their different characteristics. For example Beverly Allitt, known as the “Angel of Death” a pediatric nurse who killed 4 children and injured 5. Queen Victoria supported an act of parliament 1938 which abolished slavery in the colonies of the British Empire. This goes to show that although people may think women are all alike, they are most definitely not. Kate Keller of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet are both very different characters who share but very few similarities throughout the two plays. Ones knowing of their partner’s crime committed, one’s action of lying, and their different levels of intelligence, all prove that the two women are both different.
Incorporated in both Hamlet and All My Sons, are mysteries. In Hamlet of course, is the mystery of Hamlet’s father’s death. Who murdered him? Claudius, we know. However Gertrude did not know. There is no evidence that she had any idea of it, although Hamlet does accuse her, at one event in the play, of knowing that Claudius is a killer. Whereas Kate from All My Sons knows everything about what her husband Joe, has done. She knows he is guilty of the deaths of the pilots.
It is evident from the beginning of the play that Kate is in fact guilty of something. When Ann shows up, her behaviour towards her is strange, and of course, she acts this way because she is afraid that Ann may know something that will bring the truth out. She will not let go of the possibility that Larry is alive, which brings in foreshadows. For example when she says to Joe, “You above all have got to believe, you…” (1.309-312) Ann’s brother George goes by the house shortly after Ann arrives. He had just visited their father in prison, and has come full of rage. Kate notices, and quickly lures him in with her charm, and motherly characteristics to make him almost forget why he was angry, to protect her and Joe from the secret they have been keeping. This is a big factor which differentiates the two characters, Gertrude and Kate. One knew of the crime committed, and the other did not.
Kate from All My Sons seems to be a very clever woman. In fact, she is extremely intelligent. She is aware of everything that could go wrong. She is very careful in what she says and does, and she knows how to handle any bump in the road. She does so, throughout the play, like when Ann’s brother George arrives. However, her being intelligent does not make her a very rational character. 3 years after the disappearance of her son Larry, she still hopes to believe he is alive. She clings to that idea. She believes in any given “sign” or superstition. Like for example the whole situation of the horoscope. Gertrude from Hamlet is less intelligent.
She is more ignorant. She is taken in by Claudius’ looks and charisma, and quickly marries him. You would think she must have known about Claudius being her husband’s murderer, jumping in to a marriage with her brother in-law so quickly. However, she knows nothing. It was no act of mischievousness, only an act of ignorance, showing she may not have even loved Hamlet’s father at all, or very little. Hamlet also acts strange around Gertrude. He is disgusted by his mother’s actions. Gertrude does not have a clue as to why he acts that way, until he tells her. Only then does she realize her actions were been wrong.
Kate is a woman known to have a large capacity for love. She loves her family, evidently. She does however have an even larger capacity for lying. She knows that Joe sent out the cracked cylinder heads out, and caused the death of several pilots. She and Joe both keep the secret. She hopes and prays that her son Larry is still alive to not have to deal with the fact that his own father was the cause of his death. She states, “As long as you live that boy will be alive, that boy is alive. God does not let a son be killed by his father.” Gertrude on the other hand does not lie the way Kate does. Yes, she does lie to herself about the possible consequences of her poor actions, but I wouldn’t see it as particularly lying, I see it more as ignorance. Simply, she is refusing to believe the truth. Therefore, Kate Keller is a liar, while Gertrude is not.
You may say that both Kate and Gertrude share the same motherly characteristics. They both have strong connections with their sons. Nevertheless, Kate seems to have a more genuine love for her son. Gertrude is more selfish. She hurries in to a marriage soon after Hamlet’s father dies, and does not think of the harm it will do to her son. Kate, although she does lie, shows that she genuinely loves her sons, and that she always wants the best for Chris.
It is clear that Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Kate Keller of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons are two very different characters. Gertrude is innocent, in not knowing the crime Claudius has committed, where Kate Keller does know the crime her husband has committed. Both women have different characteristics. Kate being smarter than Gertrude is one of them. And lastly, share a different love for their sons. owner