Why is Ophelia mad? Does anything she say make sense? What happens to her at the end of Act IV? What does her madness and death symbolize about the kingdom?
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In act 4 Ophelia is driven to insanity/depression (going mad). I don’t blame Ophelia. All her life she never made a decision for herself, Polonius & Laertes both advised Ophelia on what decisions to make constantly, she was in love with Hamlet but in turn is told not to be with him and at the end of the act has no one to talk to/rely on when she needs advice.
In act 4, Ophelia goes insane because all her life she has had people (Polonius and Laertes) to guide her and almost make decisions for her instead of her making decisions for herself. Before Laertes departure to France he tells Ophelia “For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favours, hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, a violet in the youth of primy nature, forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting…”(1.3.6-9). Laertes is basically telling Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet because what he is looking for is nothing more then a short relationship. I can relate to this because I am overly protective of my sister and I don’t let her date anyone because I am a guy myself and I know what guys want from females and most of the time its not a long lasting relationship. Anyway, this proves how Laertes is making a decision for Ophelia, telling her to steer away from Hamlet not even taking in account whether she caught feeling for him or nah.
It is clear that Ophelia has feeling for Hamlet because in the first act she is telling her dad (Polonius) about how he has wooed her and what not. Polonius doesn’t care though because he knows that Hamlet doesn’t really care about her, only made it seem so, so that he could get the kill (have sex with her). Polonius takes the fatherly action and tells Ophelia that she shouldn’t see Hamlet anymore even though she has clearly stated that she has started to develop feeling for him. This is shown when Polonius says, “This is for all. I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth have you so slander any moment leisure as to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to’t, I charge you.”(1.3.137-141). Even though Ophelia had just finished explaining that she had feeling for Hamlet, Polonius, disregards them all and pretty much told her to stay away from Hamlet, making yet another decision for her.
In scene 4, Ophelia’s dad has been murdered by Hamlet causing Ophelia to go mad because all her life she has had her father and brother make her decisions, telling her what to do and what not to do. When Ophelia’s father dies she feels that she has no one to tell her what to do anymore or anyone to talk to about her feelings/problems (something happened to her mother, and her brother is in France). Hamlet also rejects Ophelia, so having no one to talk to or anywhere to go Ophelia ultimately goes insane
What Ophelia says makes sense to me. I think that she is referring to her fathers death in the song and about how Hamlet had sex with her and felt no ways about her. When Ophelia says, “how should I your true love know from another one?”(4.5.25-26) I think she is talking about how Hamlet had sex with her and doesn’t care about her anymore. This is also one of the events that cause her to go insane. Ophelia also says “He is dead and gone, lady, he is dead and gone”(4.5.31-32). I think that this line is referring to her fathers death which she still hasn’t gotten over also leading to her madness.
I think that Ophelia’s madness and death symbolize the future for the kingdom. Ophelia’s madness and death are a representation for what is currently going on in the kingdom. Ophelia has gone mad because she no longer has anyone to guide her causing her to be all alone. This relates to the kingdom because at the moment the kingdom didn’t really have a solid ruler, he was more corrupt because of his actions (killing whomever he pleased for his own personal gain). I also think that when Ophelia killed herself it represented the future of the kingdom, ultimately going down because of the corrupt leader in charge.
Why does this act open with Polonius and Reynaldo? What does this tell us about Polonius's character, and what theme or motif does it introduce in the play?
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Earlier in the play (Act 1) we are introduced to what seems to be a caring and loving father, Polonius. In act 2 we learn that although Polonius does really care for his kids, he doesn’t trust them too much. This is shown throughout the play on multiple occasions.
We start act 2 off with Polonius and Reynaldo having a very serious conversation regarding Polonius’ son, Laertes. Polonius is talking Reynaldo into ultimately spying on Laertes while he is in France. Although Polonius does care about his son he doesn’t trust him enough to allow him in France alone just yet. This is proven when Polonius says, “By this encompassment and drift of question that they do know my son, come you more near than your particular demand will touch it.” (2.1.11-13). Polonius is telling Reynaldo to go around France asking locals about Laertes and what his doings are while he has been in France. This show’s how, although a caring father, Polonius has trust problems with his kids.
While having this conversation with Reynaldo not only does Polonius ask Reynaldo to spy and ask around about Laertes but he also wants Reynaldo to implement lies about Laertes in order to get the truth from locals. This is shown when Polonius him self says, “Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth;”(2.1.69). Polonius is pretty much telling Reynaldo to bait Laertes (tell lies or hint at lies about Laertes) in order to get his friends/locals to tell the truth about Laertes.
A theme is created early on in Hamlet which is telling a lie in order to get the truth or #facts. This is shown when Polonius tells Reynaldo to say to the locals that he knows Laertes but “not well; but if’t be he I mean, he’s very wild, addicted so and so.”(2.1.18-20). Polonius is telling Reynaldo to tell the locals that he knows Laertes but not very well, just enough to know that he is wild, addicted to said activities, drugs, etc. Once again we see Polonius’ distrust in his son and a theme that reoccurs throughout Hamlet.
It is obvious that Polonius does not trust his son, for what seems to be no apparent reason to us the readers. This is shown when Polonius tells Reynaldo to spy on Laertes, implement lies about him in order to get the truth from his friends/locals and we see a theme that is created at the beginning of the play. Why do you guys think that Polonius doesn’t trust Laertes to be alone in France? Let me know in the comment section below, hope you enjoyed J