In act 3, scene 1 of Hamlet, besides the famous "being" versus "not being," what are thematic oppositions that can be found in this scene? How are the oppositions grounded in the details of the scene?

In act 3, scene 1 of Hamlet, there are thematic oppositions between honesty/deception and love/antagonism. In their conversation, Hamlet and Ophelia discuss honesty. He insists that she cannot be both “honest and fair,” while she claims that he deceived her. In turn, he claims both that “I did love you once,” and “I loved you not.” He seems to believe that Ophelia is siding with his opponents, and wants to send her away “to a nunnery.”

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In the first scene of act 3, Hamlet delivers a soliloquy in which he contemplates the meaning of mortality and wonders if he should take his own life. When Ophelia enters, they begin a conversation which concerns, among other things, their romantic relationship. He asks he several questions about honesty, implying that she cannot be honest because she is beautiful. She turns his words around, and claims that he had deceived her. Their discussion relates to love, as they consider whether either of them had loved the other. Hamlet rails against Ophelia, for reasons she does not understand, because he has apparently concluded that she is helping Claudius.

The opposing themes of honesty and deception are prominent in this conversation. Hamlet asks her point-blank, “Are you honest?” and “Are you fair?” He insists that because she is beautiful, she cannot also be honest. She disagrees, asking rhetorically what would better match beauty than honesty. When he turns the subject toward love, Ophelia challenges his honesty, saying “I was the more deceived” by his professions of love.

Hamlet has grown increasingly bitter, claiming that “I loved you not.” The remainder of the scene apparently reveals his antagonism toward the young woman, as he challenges her virtue and suggests that she will breed “sinners.” Ophelia is much disturbed by his behavior, as he calls down a “plague” for her dowry. While she does not turn against him, she believes that he now despises her.

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