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Ophelia's ConceitsWhat conceits, sexual innuendo, and erotic fantasies do Ophelia's...

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jamie-wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 24, 2008 at 9:10 AM via web

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Ophelia's Conceits

What conceits, sexual innuendo, and erotic fantasies do Ophelia's song and other lines reveal in Act 4.5?

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 24, 2008 at 11:54 AM (Answer #2)

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Ophelia hints that she has been a maid and has been ruined--"the up he rose and donned his clothes, and dupp'd the chamber door, let in the maid, that out a maid never departed more."  She continues to hint that she has been misused ,"young men will do't if they come to't, by Cock, they are to blame.  Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me, You promised me to wed".

So, she sings of lost maidenhead, her dead father, and seems hopeless to all degrees.  The songs don't seem so much like what she wants to happen as they seem like something that has happened already.

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jamie-wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 24, 2008 at 12:15 PM (Answer #3)

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Ophelia hints that she has been a maid and has been ruined--"the up he rose and donned his clothes, and dupp'd the chamber door, let in the maid, that out a maid never departed more."  She continues to hint that she has been misused ,"young men will do't if they come to't, by Cock, they are to blame.  Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me, You promised me to wed".

So, she sings of lost maidenhead, her dead father, and seems hopeless to all degrees.  The songs don't seem so much like what she wants to happen as they seem like something that has happened already.

I agree, Amy.  Ophelia has much more "intimate" knowledge than should a virginal young woman.  To me, this makes Hamlet's treatment of her even more heinous, as he knew the prospects for a fallen woman.  His directive for her to "get to a nunnery" (which can also be interpreted as a "brothel") would probably have been her only options. 

It also says something about the oversight of her protective brother and "moral" father, does it not?  When and where did Hamlet seduce her?  And how often?  Does Hamlet feel the least bit of shame as she outlines their liasons?  We know that the references probably flew over the head of the dense Polonious, but the other players must have caught on. 

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