When does Hamlet intrude into Ophelia's private quarters?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When Polonius and his daughter Ophelia speak in Act II, Scene 1, Ophelia describes Hamlet as having his shirt hanging open and and stockings crumpled down at his ankles, a clear sign to the Elizabethan audience who recognize this attire as that of the "anguished lover." Indeed, there was a belief in love sickness. As she speaks with her father, Polonius, Ophelia tells him, also,

And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosèd out of hell
To speak of horrors—he comes before me. (2.1.82-84)
 
Evidently, Hamlet grabbed Ophelia's arm and sighed, staring at her the whole while. Hamlet shakes his head three times, sighing again; then, he leaves the room, but all the time walking with his head turned as though taking his last looks at her. After hearing this description, Polonius remarks that surely Hamlet is in love. He questions Ophelia about what she may have said.
 
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zumba96's profile pic

zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Ophelia is scared from this meeting because suddenly she sees Hamlet and he goes up to her and shakes her three times. His appearance is distraught and once she tells Polonius what happens, she starts to believe that this was the cause of Hamlet's love for Ophelia.                                                        

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rienzi | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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This is an interesting sequence. In 2.1 as Reynaldo is leaving his meeting with Polonius, Ophelia enters. Ophelia enters distraught, "affrighted" and in urgency to speak with Polonius. Her appearance and her motivation are driven by having just come from her closet where she had the encounter with Hamlet. I would say that Ophelia's encounter with Hamlet in her closet occurs at the same time Polonius is plotting with Reynaldo. With two events occurring simultaneously one is expressed mimetically (Polonius/Reynaldo) and the other diegetically (Hamlet/Ophelia as narrated by Ophelia to Polonius). This doubling up isn't isolated in the play. Most noted is Gertrude's narration of Ophelia's death in 4.7  the event of which occurs as Claudius plots with Laertes to kill Hamlet.  

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