Ophelia- ready for mental institution or marriage?

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After Polonius' somewhat one-sided conversation with Reynaldo, Ophelia bursts in and says "Alas, my lord, I have been so affrighted."

Oph: "My lord, as I was sewing in my chamber, Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced, No hat upon his head, his stockings fouled, Ungarted, and down-gyved 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 loosed out of hell To speak of horrors, he come before me."

Pol: "Mad for thy love?"

Oph: "My lord, I do not know, But truly I do fear it."

Pol: "What said he?"

Oph: "He took me by the wrist and held me hard, Then goes he to the length of all my arm, And with his other hand thus o'er his brow He falls to such perusal of my face As 'a 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 That 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 seemd to find his way without his eyes, For out o'doors he went without their help, And to the last bended their light on me."

Did Ham really come to her chamber and do all these awful things to her? :) If this actually happened, then why didn't we see Ken do that scene, at least as a flashback or something? >:) Is Oph insane? Or is this just one of her tricks to get attention? She desperatly wants a commitment, and Ham doesn't seem to keen on bringing it up. Does she think that this incident will make the court take her relationship with Ham more seriously? Do "we" have a answer for this?


-- Cath (a96chaca@hotmail.com), July 03, 1999


Hi Cath!

I don't think that there is any way of knowing whether or not Ophelia is telling the truth. There isn't any reason for us NOT to believe her as she's been fairly truthful up to this point. In fact, she even tells Polonius *everything* about what's going on between her and Ham (I,iii). My question is why the heck didn't she say SOMETHING to him during that whole episode? I think that's what Ham wanted, just to talk to her.

Considering the # of flashbacks in the movie, I was sort of expecting Branagh to put that scene in as well. However, maybe he didn't want to copy the Zeffirelli Hamlet (in which this "scene" was inserted).

"Does she think that this incident will make the court take her relationship with Ham more seriously?"

I think that Ophelia feels an obligation to tell her father everything since their confrontation in I,iii. As a result of this "talk", she's "switched sides" so to speak and will now obey her father's instead of Hamlet's wishes. Polonius (and even Laertes) certainly doesn't take their relationship seriously, but Gertrude seems to have ("I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife" [V,i 235]).

It's a mystery...

-- Virginia (vleong@ibm.net), July 03, 1999.

It was my impression that this incident happened soon after Hamlet had his encounter with the Ghost. That would explain his appearance and his behaviour. After all, now he is on a mission of revenge and must, by his own word, discard all other interests including Ophelia. Her description is of a man who is forcing himself to leave what he loves (at least temporarily) without being able to explain why ("...to speak to you like an honest man, I am most dreadfully attended"). Also, you should consider his thoughts about his mother ("...most seeming virtuous queen"). He has this quandry with women not really being honest about love and with himself, being his mother's son, not truly able to love another (as his mother must not, in his mind, have truly loved his father). As for why K.B. didn't flashback to this scene, I believe it would have taken away from the power of Ophelia's description. Shakespear's language with Kate W.'s fear-stricken and confused portrayal not only conjured images of the occurrence in the mind, but also made you feel for her plight. Poor Ophelia was an innocent victim of Old Hamlet's death before Hamlet ever came to her that night. He was already having severe problems with the nature of women ("Frailty, thy name is woman.") and their ability to love from the moment his mother married his uncle. Sorry to go on so long. Just my two cents.


-- mikken (mikken@neo.rr.com), July 07, 1999.

I think Ophelia was not lying. My interpretation of Ophers is that shereally did love Hamlet, and she is not a liar. She never lied to her father, apparantly her family is extremly close to her since she goes mad after her father4s death.

-- Larissa Dzegar (tvmaniac31@hotmail.com), November 30, 1999.

Zefirelli had Hamlet and Ophelia act the scene, so Branagh might have felt he'd be accused of copying.

I think Branagh might have wanted to show Ophelia's frustration when Polonius accuses her of giving Hamlet "hard words": she's only obeyed her father by repelling his letters and denying his access to her.

Hamlet did do it: Ophelia comes in in a fright directly from it. She is honest and gentle and pure, couldn't and wouldn't make it up. She doesn't have tricks to get attention; she is rather a modest, retiring type. She loves Hamlet, may well want a commitment, but a well-brought up, gentle and virtuous girl, which Ophelia is, doesn't woo a man in the Renaissance. Hamlet's own mother and uncle don't know about the 'relationship' till Polonius tells them, and he only finds out 'cause he's a meddling little rat who's probably been spying on her the way he arranges to do on his son. So the rest of the court certainly doesn't know about it. She and Hamlet seem to have tried to keep whatever they had together private.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), December 07, 2001.

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