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How does Ophelia take the news of her father’s death in Hamlet?

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dhimhi | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 27, 2011 at 9:15 PM via web

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How does Ophelia take the news of her father’s death in Hamlet?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 27, 2011 at 11:46 PM (Answer #1)

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When Ophelia's father, Polonius, is killed by Hamlet in Act 3, sc. 4, Ophelia loses touch with reality. In Act 4, sc. 5, Ophelia comes into the scene with Gertrude and Claudius.  Ophelia's singing and her seemingly nonsensical responses to Claudius and Gertrude indicate that she has gone mad.  Later, in the same scene, Ophelia re-enters the scene when Laertes is there.  She continues to utter apparent nonsense.  Later, in Act 4, sc. 7, Gertrude tells Claudius and Laertes that Ophelia has drowned.  Gertrude describes the situation saying that Ophelia seemed unaware of her situation when the limb broke and she fell into the water.  Ophelia's reaction to her father's death is insanity.  This is ironic because Hamlet tells us that he will pretend to be mad, but Ophelia's madness appears to be genuine.

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