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The Nunnery Scene in Hamlet
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| Words: 1208 | Submitted: 06-Dec-2012
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DescriptionAn explication of this scene in Hamlet.
The Nunnery Scene of Hamlet
Verbally chaotic and pulsing with intensity, the final part of act 3 scene 1, is also known as the “nunnery scene” in Hamlet. The scene begins with Claudius, and Ophelia’s father Polonius hastily running through their plans of using Ophelia to lure and draw out the thoughts of Hamlet, so that Polonius and Claudius, who will be spying on the scene may try to better understand the cause of Hamlet’s apparent madness. In the scene, Hamlet berate Ophelia and denounces her as a woman, ultimately withdrawing the idea that he ever did love her. The scene is known as the nunnery scene for Hamlet’s famous lines “Get thee to a nunnery!” as he scolds her for her womanly sin and suggests she go to a nunnery to become chaste.
Repetition is key in this scene, as Hamlet repeats his instruction for Ophelia to go to nunnery multiple times, “Get thee to a nunnery!” (131) “Go thy ways to a nunnery (140) “To a nunnery, go, and quickly too.”, and more. Certainly displaying an antic disposition throughout the scene, Hamlet tells Ophelia to go to a nunnery in in context “If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery”, saying that Ophelia’s reputation is spoiled, and that she will only cause harm to other men who she may lay with as “the stamp of one defect”. Hamlet is infuriated with Ophelia because she has been paying him no attention on her fathers biddings, and she has therefore been largely responsible for crushing the love between Hamlet and herself. He curses her for her behavior. Telling Ophelia to go to a nunnery then, in itself encompasses all of these sentiments which Hamlet describes and holds for Ophelia. The repetition Shakespeare uses here in effect emphasizes Hamlets feelings towards Ophelia described above, as well as a sense of madness about Hamlet who repeats his extreme demand of Ophelia time and again.
Shakespeare conveys a sense of haste in the scene, as Hamlet seems to be pouring out his thoughts and telling to rush off as if time is short. Shakespeare’s use of caesura is heavy in this scene, and the structure which they create is largely responsible for this hasty feeling, as sentences end and begin midline. This is demonstrated when Hamlet says to ophelia “Get thee to a nunnery, go; farewell.”(145) Furthermore, the caesura shows Hamlet’s internal conflict and stress as he is almost ...
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