" sweet to the sweet," Getrude says as she scatters flowers over ophelia's grave.( v. 1 236 )thoughout hamlet, shakespare uses flowers and herbs symbolically to represent aspects of ophelia's nature or predicament.My question is, How does the flowers or herbs indirectly tell the reader about ophelia.

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In act 1 scene 3 ophelia is offering of flowers and herbs in act 4 scene 5, and ophelia's death in act 4 scene 1; and her burial in act 5 scene 1. please if you can translate what this means i will be very greatful indeed.

-- joseph babatunde (JOSBABA@YAHOO.COM), November 04, 1999


Well, this sounds like an intriguing essay question. I'm not sure what you're referring to in I,iii though. In IV, v, when Oph. is distributing the flowers, each one represents something to its recipient. Namely, Rosemary -- remembrance Pansies -- thoughts Fennel & Columbines -- marital infidelity Rue (herb o' grace) -- repentance Daisy -- (unhappy) love Violets -- faithfulness

-- Virginia (vleong@attglobal.net), November 12, 1999.

Purity? Innocence? Sweetness? Prettiness? Laertes says, "Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself, she turns to favor and to prettiness." I think there are many interpretations of the significance of the flowers (especially in that scene). Gertrude, "sweets to the sweet!" Though, the flowers at the funeral may be less suspect than the rest. They are simple, colorful, soft and sweet smelling; all things that may be of comfort to one in great mental distress.

-- gkandia (gkandia@prodigy.net), December 12, 1999.

Fennel: Refers to flattery, as a king like claudius might expect to receive. Colombines:Unfaithfulness in love as the the queen may havee commited with Claudius white king Hamlet was still alive. Rue: Sorrow, repentance. " ..you must wear your rue with a difference ": For the queen unfaithfulness (repentance) and for her own loss of her father (sorrow). Daisy: deception in love affairs: her own deception with Hamlet. Violet: sign of faithfulness. They are in the play withered because as Hamlet have kill her father she can't marry him now.

This tell us that Ophelia was not so crazy at all.

-- alejandra (alexa@vocampo.com.ar), September 12, 2000.

Ophelia is surrounded by flowers in order to ilustrate her true innocence,and being innocent she see's no flaws in the people she loves. Am sure that if she had lived to see Hamlet's death she too would of turned mad.

-- Alex Velasquez ('foo@bar.com'.), January 09, 2001.

What a beautiful question.

In I.iii you must mean laertes' referral to Hamlet's love as "A violet in the youth of primy nature" (I.iii.5-7). He goes on to exlain his meaning in the next 2 lines. Ironically for us, Laertes choses the flower which symbolizes faithfulness for his metaphor. The apparent paradox of the relatively short life of such beautiful and pure things as flowers are is a recurrent consideration in Shakespeare. He also frequently compares it with the youthful beauty of women. Compare especially TWELFTH NIGHT II.iv.37-40. So Laertes' lines subtly foreshadow what will happen to the faithfully loving Ophelia. It's sort of a surreptitious comment that the purely, innocently, delicately beautiful cannot survive for long in this world. Laertes definitely connects her with violets in V.i.221-223: "... from her fair and unpolluted flesh/ May violets spring". She's presented as a very source of faithfulness.

I find it interesting to read the "Sweets to the sweet ..." lines in tbe light of the beliefs expressed in Sonnets 5 and 6, bearing in mind that Ophelia married to Hamlet should have had his children. See especially the last two lines of Sonnet 5: "But flowers distilled [ie women who bear children], though they with winter meet,/ Lose but their show; their substance still lives sweet."

With regard to the daisy, it is also the flower with which girls traditionally play the game of 'he loves me, he loves me not'. You pluck a petal and say 'he loves me', and pluck another and say 'he loves me not'. The last remaining petal gives you your answer as to whether or not he loves you.

-- catheirne england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), December 06, 2001.

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