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Transcript of Ophelia's Destruction
01/17/13 Madness Continued Ophelia Vs. Hamlet's Love Ophelia's Madness Act 4, Scene 5 This scene begins in the middle of a conversation. The first thing we hear is "I will not speak with her" (4.5.1), spoken by the Queen as she comes into the room. As the scene progresses, we learn that they must be speaking of Ophelia, who has gone mad and wants to see the Queen. The gentleman says that "Her mood will needs be pitied." The Queen asks, "What would she have?" (4.5.3), but the gentleman doesn't answer her question. Instead, he tells the Queen it would be a safer to speak to Ophelia, because she has been talking about her father, and "tricks," and she's making people wonder what's going on. Horatio sums it up by saying, "'Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew / Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds" (4.5.14-15). Apparently Horatio has more influence with the Queen than the gentleman does, and she says that Ophelia can come in. When Ophelia enters she asks, "Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?" (4.5.21), and sings an old ballad that begins "How should I your true-love know / From another one?" In the closet scene, Hamlet asked Queen Gertrude that same kind of question, and answered it, too. In his view, King Hamlet was her "true love," and he could be distinguished from "another one" by the fact that he was handsome and noble, whereas Claudius is an ugly murderer. In Ophelia's song, the question is answered by saying that the "true-love" is a pilgrim on his way to the holy shrine of St. James in Spain. Then the Queen asks Ophelia what she means, and Ophelia answers with another bit of song, beginning, "He is dead and gone, lady" (4.5.29). Ophelia's father is "dead and gone," but so is King Hamlet, and perhaps Ophelia is singing as one bereft woman to another.
Why does Ophelia sing this song? Perhaps because it expresses just what her brother told her about Hamlet. Laertes told her that even though it might look like Hamlet really loved her, as soon as he got her into bed, it would be all over, because he wouldn't marry her. If this is what Ophelia is referring to, being crazy seems to have made her more knowing about how the world goes.
Hamlet and Ophelia were deeply in love. After watching his mother Hamlet thinks all women are weak and only want physical attention. Therefore, Hamlet thinks the same of Ophelia. Hamlet's anger grows when he finds out she has become one of her fathers escortes. Polonius dosent want them to get married because all he wants is power and if she marries Hamlet she will have more power then him. so he tells her she can no longer see Hamlet.
Ophelia willingly does what her father says. Hamlet is mad at this but gives her one last chance because of the love he feels for her. When Polonius and Claudius are watching their conversation Hamlet says "where is your father" and she replys "at home". This was her last chance and when he sees that she has become corrupted by her father he becomes enraged with her. This contributes Ophelia's insanity as well. He never stops loving her (shown at the funeral) and she still loved (shown when he was yelling and cursing at her and all she could do was beg for god to fogive him). its just that Hamlets thoughts of revenge and his thoughts of his mother held his main attention and thus he more or less forgot about Ophelia and how he treated her until it was to late.