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Transcript of Ophelia's Madness
By: Jessica Gall
Y-axis= Ophelia's rank of madness
X-Axis= Time of important event
In love with Hamlet
Governed by everyone else
starting to drift from Hamlet
Angry & Disgusted
Act 1, Scene 3, Lines 110-111
Act 1, Scene 3 Lines 45-51 & 136
Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 75-82
Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 85-98
Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 106-108
Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 28-37
Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 97-102
Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 115
Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 144-155
Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 99-100
Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 129
Act 3, Scene 3, Lines 225
Act 4, Scene 5, Lines 4-13
Act 4, Scene 5, Lines 22-26
Act 4, Scene 5, Lines 42-44
Act 4, Scene 5, Lines 68-72
Act 4, Scene 5, Lines 74-85
Act 4, Scene 5, Lines 177-181
Act 4, Scene 7, Lines 166-183
Act 5, Scene 1, Lines 193-201
"I shall obey, my lord."
Laertes commands Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet because he fears that she will get hurt in young love. Instead of Ophelia being independent, she gives in to his request and says that she will follow in his guidance. Although she is letting herself be controlled by someone else, we see here that she is still sane because she is still able to defend herself by telling her brother that he must follow his own advice as well. Not long after her brother gives her orders on how to handle Hamlet, Polonius, Ophelia's father begins to meddle in her business by agreeing with Laertes to stay away from Hamlet. He tells her that Hamlet is just making promises to her that he will break later and to not be fooled. Ophelia once again decides to obey his orders and decides to stay away from the love of her life.
"I shall the effect of this good lesson keep
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven
Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede."
"And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
With almost all the holy vows of heaven."
Ophelia explains to her father, and earlier her brother, that Hamlet does truly love her. They object to this and say that he is just a boy that is playing games with her. However, we can see here that by Ophelia defending him, she belives he loves her because she loves him just the same.
"My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced;
No hat upon his head; his stockings fouled,
Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle;
Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosèd out of hell
To speak of horrors—he comes before me."
Since Ophelia has been avoiding Hamlet as she was told to by Laertes & Polonius, Hamlet is confused and it's driving him crazy. They were so in love, and then all of a sudden she just pushes him away. His madness scares Ophelia and she can already feel the distance created between them by their time apart. She almost doesn't even know who he is because of how crazy he seems.
"He took me by the wrist and held me hard.
Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow,
He falls to such perusal of my face
As he would draw it. Long stayed he so.
At last, a little shaking of mine arm
And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
He raised a sigh so piteous and profound
As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
And end his being. That done, he lets me go,
And, with his head over his shoulder turned,
He seemed to find his way without his eyes,
For out o' doors he went without their helps,
And to the last bended their light on me."
Ophelia's description of Hamlet is that of an insane person. He seems to be blindly looking around as if he his possessed and is violently shaking her. We see how frightening this is to Ophelia because she is not used to this behavior. The distance she put between them was hard for her to deal with, but it hurt her even worse when she realized that their love wasn't able to withstand the time apart. Hamlet grew mad and she can see that he is no longer the same and this only causes her to distance herself more.
"No, my good lord. But as you did command
I did repel his fetters and denied
His access to me."
Ophelia's ability to ignore Hamlet, although her heart burns with love for him, shows her numbness to the situation. She seems to have always been bossed around by other people that she doesn't even see the point in fighting back anymore. She feels betrayed by her father for making her ignore him after seeing the damage it caused to Hamlet's sanity. She feels so strongly about him that his state affects her and begins to put Ophelia on the path to madness as well.
"Sweet Gertrude, leave us too,
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as ’twere by accident, may here
Her father and myself (lawful espials)
Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge,
And gather by him, as he is behaved,
If ’t be the affliction of his love or no
That thus he suffers for."
Claudius is speaking to Gertrude here and telling her about his and Polonius' plan to use Ophelia to lure Hamlet into finding out why he is mad. Ophelia is once again being used as a pawn in their games. She doesn't even show the slightest bit of objection because she isn't even asked permission. They basically just command her to do it. Ophelia's inability to defend herself in this situation further exemplifies her numbness to the situation and the way she almost doesn't care what happens anymore because of her hopelessness.
"My honored lord, you know right well you did,
And with them, words of so sweet breath composed
As made the things more rich. Their perfume lost,
Take these again, for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord."
You can feel the sadness in Ophelia's reply to Hamlet here. She is trying to return all of the letters he wrote her, and we can see how emotional it is for her because it's basically her officially breaking off their relationship and trying to move on. He then rejects her and makes it seem as their relationship never happened, further hurting poor Ophelia. She feels unloved and rejected.
"Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so."
"I did love you once."
Hamlet worsens the blow to Ophelia by bluntly stating that he actually never loved her. Ophelia is so shocked by this that she almost doesn't even know what to say. She feels a thousand emotions in this instant and all she can do is remember how loved she felt and she thinks how well an actor Hamlet must be for all of it to be a lie. It hurts her heart to see someone she had so much history with blatantly reject and put her down.
"Oh, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!—
The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword,
Th' expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
Th' observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That sucked the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatched form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy. Oh, woe is me,
T' have seen what I have seen, see what I see!"
Ophelia is in between depression and anxiety. She is so overcome with sadness because she hates to see the great Hamlet lose everything that he was. At the same time she is feeling very uncomfortable with how aggressive and cruel he is acting. She cannot seem to find an answer to how someone so loved and wonderful could turn so cold so fast.
"Lady, shall I lie in your lap?"
"No, my lord."
"I mean, my head upon your lap?"
"Ay, my lord."
"Do you think I meant country matters?"
"I think nothing, my lord."
This dialogue between Hamlet and Ophelia during the play symbolizes how polarized the two have become. Ophelia feels extremely uncomfortable with the scene he is causing in front of so many people. She becomes disgusted with his mentioning of sex between them and is angry that he embarrassed her in front of so many people. Hamlet is only causing Ophelia to feel more angry and depressed over the way their relationship ended and what he has become.
"You are naught, you are naught. I’ll mark the play."
"Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be not you ashamed to show, he’ll not shame to tell you what it means."
Hamlet sort of implies that Ophelia is a tramp. She becomes even more disgusted with his behavior because all she did was ask a simple question about his play. If anything, she was trying to seem interested in order to please him and he once again shut her down. He can no longer have a normal conversation with her and insists on continuously giving sarcastic and sexual answers. It causes Ophelia to feel uncomfortable, angry, and disgusted with Hamlet.
"I could interpret between you and your love,
if I could see the puppets dallying."
'You are keen, my lord, you are keen."
The conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia is causing Ophelia to go mad. It continues to escalate because of how hurt Hamlet's pride is due to Ophelia leaving him. He implies that she may have left him for someone else, and this is where we see Ophelia start to give sarcastic answers back. We know Ophelia is not one to stick up for herself so for her to go back at Hamlet shows how insanely mad Hamlet is driving her to be.
"She speaks much of her father, says she hears
There’s tricks i' th' world, and hems, and beats her heart,
Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt
That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing,
Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
The hearers to collection. They aim at it,
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts,
Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield them,
Indeed would make one think there might be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily."
This statement by a gentleman to Gertrude is explaining how Ophelia has essentially reached her breaking point. She is rambling about her father's death and other "conspiracy" issues. We can see her sudden distrust in everything and everyone as another sign of insanity. She also seems to be making weird, jerking movements and is starting to frighten people.
"How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon."
Ophelia is so deeply affected by what happened with her and Hamlet's relationship that her insanity is leading her to not even believe in love anymore. She feels completely fooled and blinded by their entire relationship because she thought Hamlet was the love of her life. After everything that happened, she realizes that there's no way what they had was real if it could end the way it did, yet what she felt at the time seemed so real. She is so confused that it has driven her mad.
"Well, good dild you! They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at your table."
Ophelia speaks about all of the lose she has experienced here. She once fell in love with Hamlet, but their relationship is now in ruins. Her dad was once there commanding her, and now he is dead. It also foreshadows more tragic events such as her's, Hamlet's, and Claudius' death. She is essentially saying that people may know who and what they are, but they do not know what the future holds and that everything could be taken away instantly. This is sort of depressing to think about and her harsh ideas symbolize her fall to insanity.
"I hope all will be well. We must be patient, but I cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him i' th' cold ground. My brother shall know of it, and so I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my coach! Good night, ladies. Good night, sweet ladies. Good night, good night."
Ophelia goes on and on about how crazy it is to see all of these things in her life change. She then seems to foreshadow her contemplation of suicide by saying that everything may work out in the end after all. We know that she must not be shifting over into a positive outlook on the situation because she has been driven into such a deep depression and insanity that there is no going back for her. She then proceeds to get away from all of them as quickly as possible, further foreshadowing her anxiousness to leave the world.
"Oh, this is the poison of deep grief. It springs
All from her father’s death, and now behold!
O Gertrude, Gertrude,
When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions. First, her father slain.
Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
Of his own just remove. The people muddied,
Thick, and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers
For good Polonius' death, and we have done but greenly
In hugger-mugger to inter him. Poor Ophelia
Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts."
Claudius is expressing how guilty he feels for the current state Ophelia is in. He describes how her sadness over Hamlet and her father's death have "poisoned" her mind. Everything happened all at once for her and she was not able to handle it. Even worse, it's his fault that Polonius did not receive a proper burial and that Hamlet has turned against her. In neither situation was Ophelia given time to say her goodbyes to two very important people in her life. Their sudden exit out of her life was too much to bear. When it rains for Ophelia, it sure does pour.
"They bore him barefaced on the bier,
Hey, non nonny, nonny, hey, nonny,
And in his grave rained many a tear.
Fare you well, my dove."
The way Ophelia is walking around singing all of her thoughts is extremely odd and is making people question her sanity. We obviously can see that she has gone insane. In this particular part of the song she is grieving over a loss, which we could attribute to Hamlet's madness or her father's death. It could also have something to do with the fact that not only did Hamlet strip her of love, but he is also the one that deprived her of a father. Hamlet's insanity is essentially the root of Ophelia's problems and madness.
"There is a willow grows aslant a brook
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call them.
There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like a while they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death."
Gertrude speaks of Ophelia's suicide in great depth. She begins to tell of how Ophelia commonly spent her happier times near the willow, which is ironic because it's the same place she went when she was at her lowest. It was the only serene place that Ophelia had left in her life and she let herself die there before that too was taken from her. She then went on to say that there was only a matter of time before she jumped in the water and drowned, which symbolizes the way in which there was only a matter of time until Ophelia was driven insane and then to suicide.
"Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful,
And, but that great command o'ersways the order,
She should in ground unsanctified have lodged
Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers
Shards, flints and pebbles should be thrown on her.
Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants,
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
Of bell and burial."
The priest at Ophelia's funeral also goes on to give his opinion on Ophelia's suspicious death. He is hesitant to even give her a proper funeral because he is almost certain she committed suicide, which is a sin. He goes so far as to say that Ophelia should have stones thrown at her. From this we can see how the society that Ophelia lived in was a lot of pressure on her. She is driven mad and takes her life and is still then put down with no pity from anyone. The way the priest acts so unsympathetic to Ophelia's cause is further evidence to why Ophelia no longer wanted to be apart of the life she lived.