What is the dramatic importance of Hamlet's interivew of Ophelia?

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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In Act 3 , scene 1, Hamlet confronts his girlfriend, Ophelia. He is angry at her and women in general, and his words are sometimes wild and sometimes brilliant and it all seems quite crazy and frightening to her. But this is all part of Hamlet's grand plan. He wants to be a disturbance, to cause trouble... trouble that is meant to worry, upset and ultimately set up King Claudius.

Hamlet knows that if he scares Ophelia, she will tell her father, Polonius, and that Polonius (an adviser to Claudius) will relate this to the King. It's an elaborate trap Hamlet is setting for Claudius. Hamlet is moving the pieces as if he were playing a deadly game of chess which will culminate in a play that will soon be seen by Claudius...a play that will enact the murder of Hamlet's father. This is the play that Hamlet believes will "catch the conscience of the King"... (the last line of Act 2).

Hamlet doesn't just want any old revenge; he wants Claudius to suffer and to feel his guilt first before he is killed.

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