In Act 1 scene 3 of Hamlet, what does Ophelia reply to her brother about his advice to her?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Laertes in this scene is just about to go back to his university to continue studying, and as such he will be leaving his sister by herself in Elsinore. It is clear that he is concerned about the attentions she has been receiving from Prince Hamlet, and he is keen to make sure that she takes steps to protect herself. Ophelia, it is clear, takes his warnings seriously:

I shall th'effect of this good lesson keep

As watchman to my heart...

But also, she goes on to make fun of her brother, saying that she hopes he will heed the same advice that he is giving to her. It would be unfair, she says, if he were to counsel her to make sure she takes "the steep and thorny way to heaven" whilst becoming a "reckless libertine" himself. Ophelia therefore responds in a way that shows she is aware of the risk Prince Hamlet poses to her.


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