Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Hamlet book cover
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When Hamlet and Ophelia meet, Ophelia wishes to return Hamlet’s tokens of love to him, but Hamlet denies that he gave her anything since he knows he's being spied on. He then asks Ophelia if she is honest and proceeds to discuss beauty and honesty. What is Hamlet trying to say to Ophelia here in Hamlet?

What Hamlet is trying to say to Ophelia is that women use their beauty to get what they want. It is because of their beauty that women's deceit goes unnoticed. Therefore, according to Hamlet, honesty has nothing to do with beauty. In saying this, Hamlet is acknowledging Ophelia's beauty while at the same time denying her honesty as he knows that she's part of a plan to spy on him.

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Just before he screams at her to get to a nunnery, Hamlet tells Ophelia that honesty and beauty have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. In response to Ophelia's question whether beauty can be related to anything better than honesty, Hamlet said that indeed it can; the power of beauty is such that it can turn a good girl into a "bawd", or prostitute.

The implication here is that beauty is often...

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