English IV: Early British Literature (A)
October 30, 12
Act 3, Scene 1
In this scene of the third act, Claudius and Polonius set to spy on Hamlet as he speaks to Ophelia. Before this, they talk to Hamlet’s old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and see if they were able to get any information on why Hamlet was acting so odd. They could not figure out why he was acting weird because he was answering them in length when they asked questions. Hamlet did not seem to be hiding anything from them. In this scene, Hamlet delivers perhaps the most prominent Shakespeare speech of any one of his plays. In this speech, Hamlet asks if it is better to live with distress or die and sleep. He gives multiple examples of why living is bad, but no reasons why it’s good. Once Hamlet notices Ophelia coming his way he stops and talks to her in a very petulant manner. He calls her a whore and tells her to go to a convent, where she should not get married or have kids because she will cheat on whomever she marries. Interrupting Hamlet every time, she asks for him to please be normal again. After calling off their wedding, Hamlet exits and Ophelia reflects on the relationship she and Hamlet once had. Polonius then suggests that their last option before sending him to England to find out what is going on with his is to have him talk to his mother, Gertrude, while Polonius listens in on their conversation. Claudius agrees to his councilor’s requests and the scene ends.