Baptista

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The offstage character Baptista is the wife of Gonzago. She is mentioned by Hamlet in Scene 9. (Scene 9#222)

Role

In the context of the play-within-a-play, the 'Mousetrap' / Gonzago play that is, Hamlet's mention of Baptista is part of the analogy by which Claudius is likened to the 'Mousetrap' play's murderous villain.

  • Costume - not applicable, since Baptista does not appear on stage. In the mind's eye we picture her as an Italian duchess.

Name

Hamlet speaks of Baptista while sitting beside Ophelia. The name, Baptista, by the sound of it, suggests baptism, which is done by immersion in water. Ophelia will die from immersion in water. None of them has any idea of that when Hamlet speaks. The name is an "omen" that goes unheard.

Lines

Baptista has no lines.

Themes and Motifs

Those most relevant to Hamlet's mention of Baptista:

Omen, and Putting on a Show

The name is ominous for Ophelia, and Scene 9 is all about putting on a show.

On Stage

Baptista is never onstage. Hamlet speaks of her in Scene 9.


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