Why in Hamlet, does the motif of birth and pregnancy be seen as evil in Hamlet's eyes. ie - "Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners"

1 Answer | Add Yours

thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In the famous nunnery scene in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, the protagonist, Hamlet, is having a quasi-mad episode, brought on by the general situation of the corrupt Danish court and his own personal situation. We have been given several hints that Ophelia, herself unstable but innocent and virginal, has been repeatedly warned about the prevalence of adultery in the court and made to distrust Hamlet's love for her.

Hamlet in this scene suspects Ophelia of being unfaithful and thus suggests that she go either to a convent (or possible a brothel, as nunnery is a slang term for brothel in this period), The comments about breeding sinners thus refers specifically to breeding children born of adultery in Also, in Christian theology, all people are born sinners due to original sin, and Hamlet, seeing the corruption of the court, may be emphasizing that it is better to be celibate than to bear children into such a world.


We’ve answered 319,857 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question