Is there evidence in his "To be, or not to be" soliloquy that Hamlet shows his feelings for Gertrude and Ophelia?William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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At the end of his soliloquy in Act III, Scene 1, Hamlet notices Ophelia and asks her to pray for his sins.  When he addresses Ophelia, Hamlet calls her Nymph, in the courtly manner of salutation:

The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered. (3.1.96-97)

While some critics point to Hamlet's mocking of Ophelia with a suggestion that is sarcastic, others interpret these lines as Hamlet's genuine supplication of her assistance when he emerges from a moment of intense introspection on the question of existence.

Regarding Gertrude, there are no clear and distinct references to her in Hamlet's "to be, or not to be" soliloquy.  Earlier, in his previous speech, the second soliloquy, however, Hamlet alludes to Gertrude as

O most pernicious woman!

O villain, villain, smiling , damned villain!

My tables--meet it is I set it down

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain. (1.5.105-108)

Clearly, here Hamlet utters his disgust for Gertrude, feeling that she has committed a criminal act in marrying the brother of her slain husband.


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