O most pernicious woman!

I tried to look up pernicious
But I’m in a café
And the WiFi won’t work and somehow
I don’t have a dictionary with me.
It’s one of those words that I think I know what it means
But then I look at it here and I suddenly have no idea.
If you’d asked me what it means out of this context,
I’d have said it’s a combination of persistent and evil –
Perhaps persistently evil
An aggressive weed in the garden, one that chokes the tomato plants
And covers over the strawberries
But I don’t think this really describes Gertrude
And presumably he’s speaking about her.
False, she may be,
Disloyal, fickle, political, opportunistic and if she knew
Of Claudius’ deed – either before or after –
We could go so far as cruel, evil, malevolent,
Traitorous, complicit, deceitful, despicable –
But she is not Aaron from Titus Andronicus or Iago from Othello
Or even the Queen in Cymbeline.
She isn’t the villain in the piece
Just the villain’s companion.
So I’m either confused about what pernicious means or
Hamlet has some reasons to call his mother this
That I don’t understand. Or I suppose
He could just be really mad at her,
For which I cannot blame him.
Probably, I’m going to find a dictionary and will,
Eventually rewrite this whole little piece.
Ah – and here it is – “causing insidious harm or ruin”
Well. That makes more sense.
Insidious harm? Yeah, that I’ll buy.

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