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How does Ophelia's madness manifest itself? ( please use the text to support your...

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leila22 | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted May 28, 2013 at 3:42 PM via web

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How does Ophelia's madness manifest itself? ( please use the text to support your answers).

I think her madness manifested itself as song but she chooses the versus carefully and there is a lot of meaning behind her words. Please help me answer this question with evidence. 

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caitlinjoseph10 | High School Teacher | Honors

Posted June 28, 2013 at 12:20 AM (Answer #1)

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Ophelia's madness presents itself in many ways.  The presentation of her madness begins in Act IV Scene V. Hamlet has killed her father, and with this news, she looses all grasp on reality. She begins singing songs about death, love, and sexual betrayl. 

"How should I your true love know

From another one?

By his cockle hat and staff

And his saddle shoon, (4.5.23-26)"

She is speaking, in madness, about how her "love" Hamlet was never true.  She now finds it difficult to recognize true love, and feels betrayed by Hamlet."

"His beard as white as snow,

All flaxen with his poll

He is gone, he is gone

And we cast away moan:

God ha'mercy on his soul, (4.5.23-26)"

Discussing Polonius' death and pointing the way to Ophelia's madness.  She is mourning his death and hoping he finds his way to heaven.

She flits around and then distributes various herbs with meanings behind them (some speculate that she is imagining holding the herbs - another manifestation of her madness). 

*"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember." To Laertes, hoping he'll remember their father.

*"There's fennel for you and columbines." A jab at the King!  Referencing adultery and foolishness.

*"There's rue for you; and here's some for me.  We may call it herb of grace a Sunday's.  O, you must wear your rue with a difference." Rue is very bitter.  This is given to the Queen.  It is also the cause for abortion in it's day, which references adultery.

Finally, her madness leads to her "fall" out of a tree, land in a lake, and drown.  She is described as very beautiful in death, although many speculate that her death was not an accident, but a suicide from her broken heart.

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