What are some of the major ambiguities in Shakespeare's Hamlet?

What are some of the major ambiguities in Shakespeare's Hamlet?

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One of the great ambiguities of Hamlet concerns Ophelia's death. Audiences have debated whether or not her death was truly an accident, some claiming she was lucid enough to have killed herself on purpose. In fact, this is the case within the play as well: during her burial, the priest overseeing the funeral refuses to give Ophelia the full rites because of the questionable circumstances of her death. He even says "her death was doubtful" right to her brother Laertes's face at the burial itself (5.1.111).

The reader is never given a clear answer on the matter. One's interpretation depends upon how insane one believes Ophelia was. For example, the scene in which she gives flowers to Claudius and Gertrude could be seen as just a mad girl rambling, yet the flowers she gives them have specific meanings related to the flaws of these characters. Was this Ophelia just rambling about nothing, or was she criticizing the social order that the king and queen represent, using madness as her cover?


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