In "Hamlet,"  why does Hamlet become to angry with Ophelia in Act 3, Scene 1?

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ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hamlet suspects that Polonius may be watching, which, of course, he is. He is angry with Ophelia for setting him up in this way and with Polonius for trying to use Ophelia to determine his motives. Later in the play, Hamlet will insist that he loved Ophelia, but his actions in this scene so that he can also become violent or at least thinks he must act violent, to preserve the facade that he is mad. Thus, he hurts Ophelia with his admonition to go to a nunnery and convinces Claudius and Polonius that the cause of his depression is not his inability to see Ophelia.

parkerlee's profile pic

parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Hamlet is unjustly transferring his mother's guilt onto Ophelia, presuming she is unchaste simply because that is (according to the role model of his mother) the nature of the weaker sex. In psychology, this kind of presumption based solely on one's own experience is called "supposition of the similitude."

It is Polonius' duty as a father to look after his daughter's comings and goings, and Hamlet thinks he should be paying closer attention to his daughter's whereabouts (since surely she must be up to no good!) Hamlet shows contempt for Ophelia because she inaccessible to him (and therefore eventually available to the next courtier which comes along).  By complying to her father's demands of keeping her distance from Hamlet, Ophelia seems to be rejecting his love and giving reason to her father. 


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