He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
The head and source of all your son’s distemper.
I doubt it is no other but the main;
His father’s death, and our o’erhasty marriage.
In Act II, scene ii, Polonius has just taken a short leave from Claudius and Gertrude after announcing to his rulers that he has ascertained the reason for Hamlet’s madness. The courtier’s brief absence is explained when Polonius bids King Claudius to hold an audience for the ambassadors. Claudius consents and as Polonius leaves to fetch them, the king and queen discuss what their trusted friend has just told them. Claudius repeats what Polonius has just said. Gertrude’s statement appears very telling. She says, “I doubt it is no other but…his father’s death and our o’erhasty marriage.” Her wording seems interesting, as she uses the word “overhasty.” Perhaps she, like her son, finally realizes that she has remarried in an unacceptable manner after her first husband’s death. Also, in a typical ‘mother-knows-best’ attitude, Gertrude discounts Polonius’ suggestion that Hamlet’s condition is caused by love and offers instead her own assessment of the situation, though one would think that selfishly, she would want the blame for Hamlet’s “madness” placed on anyone but herself. Between Hamlet’s sullen words in front of the court in Act I and his constant behavior of somber grieving for his deceased father, Gertrude and Claudius surely know Hamlet’s position on their marriage. Perhaps Gertrude is starting to acknowledge her son’s feelings at last, and begins to regret some of her recent choices. Even though the queen obviously does not feel guilty enough about her actions to redeem herself, she appears to feel personally responsible for her son’s current mental state.