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When Hamlet comes upon the gravedigger, he immediately senses death in a new way. After the sudden death of his father and his own killing of Polonius, his presence in the graveyard has an entirely new meaning. Little does he know, the grave he stands in front of is for another friend of his, and there is only more death to come. He picks up a skull and gives the example of a lawyer. He explains in this first speech that after death, all the knowledge man has acquired is useless. Any power that this lawyer could have gained in life is meaningless when he is simply another undistinguishable skeleton. Hamlet uses many questions in this passage, and he may be alluding to the questioning and almost berating tone that lawyers often used. He also repeats and uses words in more than one way, (recovery, vouch, fine), possibly implying that the skeletons around him are as unrecognizable and common as the words he uses. The words he says have more than one meaning, just as the skeletons around him have more than one identity (a lawyer, a jester, a maid, etc.).

Hamlet converses with the gravedigger, and after realizing that the gravedigger takes all Hamlet s words literally, remarks How absolute the knave is! (ln140). Like death, the gravedigger is literal and absolute, and cannot be joked with. Next there are many references to the earth and burial. The word ground is used and then Hamlet asks the gravedigger how long it takes a buried man to rot. He is talking about the physical act of decay, while the gravedigger s response refers to a sort of spirituality or karma. The gravedigger replies that the time of decay depends on how rotten the man is when placed into the earth. Rotten men would decay faster and therefore not be remembered as long as good men who take a long time to be forgotten.

Hamlet then reaches for the skull of an old court jester who used to amuse him as a child. Again, the speech Hamlet gives concerning the skull reflects the attitude and characteristics of the dead person. Hamlet jokes with the skull by calling it chapfallen, which could mean sad or without the lower jaw. Here he banters with the dead skull, asking him for one more amusing merriment. He also acknowledges the irony of the grinning jester s skull, forever frozen in laughter. Hamlet s rhythm is quite different from that of the gravedigger. The gravedigger speaks more in prose, while Hamlet speaks in iambic pentameter. Because of Hamlet s often questioning tone, the inflection at the end of the sentences goes up, making this scene not as morbid as it could have possibly been.

Hamlet realizes his own mortality in this section, foreshadowing his death to come. Slowly the people around Hamlet are dying, and he has not only taken a life, but he has lost people close to him. However, his astonishment at the finality of death is not completely warranted. He was visited by the ghost of his father, proving that death is not absolute and implying that somehow man retains some sort of humanity or soul after death. This passage illustrates that Hamlet is going through a period of uncertainty and discovery, and analyzing the necessity of his actions. His almost acceptance of mortality towards the end of the passage implies that he will make a definite decision concerning his course of action.

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Movie Adaption Of Hamlet Analysis Film Studies Essay

Movie Adaption Of Hamlet Analysis Film Studies Essay

Published: 23rd March, 2015 Last Edited: 23rd March, 2015

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

When it comes to comparing different types of media, there can be distinct characteristics between one other, whether it is based on novels, films, plays, etc. The media is very open to many aspects and many people have been interested on how directors interpret the same source. In general movies sometimes leave or add small details that can change the story's plot, where one may view it as a good or bad thing. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there have been quite a lot of adaptations to the play - mainly movies. This play consists of a variety of emotions and drama, making viewers interested to see how the directors have visualized the plot and scenes, especially when there are multiple versions where each one is different. Out of the few known movies, two shared similarities, but have many differences: Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet in 1996 and Michael Almereyda's Hamlet in 2000. Both of these movies had added and left out some scenes that were originally scripted from the play as well as coming up with different uses of cinematography.

For Kenneth Branagh being the director and playing the role of Hamlet, one of the unique features about this version is the plot itself. The setting took place during the medieval times in the 19th century. This movie used all of Shakespeare's text, making the movie last for approximately four hours long. The relationship between Hamlet and his father Claudius (played by Derek Jacobi) shows much more emotion than other adaptations of Hamlet, clearly expressing their emotions verbally and physically. This version is indeed to be vibrant, fresh, and pleasing to the eye. As the movie progresses to Gertrude (played by Julie Christie) and Claudius's wedding, the camera focuses directly at the whole scene, sliding from corner to corner, making an amazing panorama look. During Hamlet's first soliloquy, he is in a large room where he stands all alone. This is significant to how he feels with his mother's marriage to his Claudius and his emotions shows that he is alone with his father Old Hamlet gone. This is an easy way to determine that everyone but Hamlet has moved on with their lives. Another key fact about this scene is the way Hamlet behaves when he approaches to the mirrors. While hamlet begins his "To be or not to be" speech, he begins walking towards the mirror. At the same time the camera slowly zooms in, leaving everything out but Hamlet's appearance of him holding the dagger. The captured scenery makes this scene much more affectionate. Another captivating scene was where Hamlet kills Polonius in Gertrude's room. The image was viewed as a long-angle shot, making reflections of Hamlet and Gertrude on Polonius's blood. As a result, these scenes were much more effective. The moment where the camera fades the edges and focuses on Hamlet's face really captures one's attention. Usually directors visualize Hamlet's main setting to be in a dark environment. Kenneth took another approach and upgraded the setting to a luxurious castle, with brighter lighting, adding fine details with rich gold moldings along the walls and the large spacious rooms. Out of all the other Hamlet movies, this version was seen to have the least amount of furniture on set. Branagh directed the camera more on the characters than the scenery. With the great stage setting that turns the castle to an elegant atmosphere, the signs of death/misery would not be found right away. Death would be mentioned by the characters themselves rather than making a scene where it is obvious to recognize that they are acting abnormally. Certain lighting was adjusted to make scenes darker to show signs of melancholy. The character's costume itself (during Gertrude and Claudius' wedding Hamlet is seen from behind and is wearing pure black) is a great example of interpreting an alternative way to show how colours give out powerful imageries. The captured setting where Hamlet stands alone in the room is breath taking. Certain scenes in the movie progressed a bit slower than the other versions; however the use of long shot framing had made the view impressive throughout. One of the elements that Branagh used in the film is mirrors. This is one of the key components that Hamlet uses frequently in the movie. He is seen taking glimpses of himself on the mirrors, not just in a particular room but everywhere in the castle. On the other hand, no movie is perfect. One of the negative things that people would criticize about would be the length of the movie. There are people who are not fans of Shakespeare who would not be willing to watch a four hour movie where they might not understand (language barrier) except for looking at how the characters interact with each other. Kenneth Branagh not only chose characters that were talented, but selected older actors/actresses.

Known to be the latest version of Hamlet, Michael Almereyda has created something for sure is far different than the other adaptations of the play. The movie was produced in 2000 and is compressed to a shorter length of time than Branagh's Hamlet. Situated in the center of New York City, the two rulers are no longer countries; instead they are changed to business corporations. The roles of the characters have been changed to business positions (from King Claudius of Denmark to Claudius CEO of Denmark Corporation, who is played by Kyle MacLachlan). Since the movie is based on the 21st century, there had to be a change of props used in the play. Guns are the replacements of swords and other components had been changed to technological devices such as televisions, phones, pictures, etc. The director's choice of setting in this version of Hamlet was appropriate where technology is used most common today. During the opening scene of the movie, it begins with a low angle perspective, showing the tall buildings making the city more thrilling. The scene where the ghost appears is located inside an old dark, empty building where the Old Hamlet was spotted on the security camera by Horatio, Bernardo, and Marcellus (interestingly enough Amlereyeda decides to replace Marcellus with a female that is also Horatio's girlfriend). In addition to the scene changes, Hamlet uses an airplane as his transportation to leave Denmark instead of a boat. As Gertrude and Claudius begin walking outside, the camera slides to Hamlet where he is seen from his back walking with sunglasses on. Almereyda has directed a unique way of expressing Hamlet's melancholy. From our view of the camera, it begins moving sideways from the bright white walls and the large windows to the dark area where the Hamlet is sitting on his desk. Michael took another approach to how Hamlet behaves when he is alone discussing his thoughts and feelings to himself. The audio plays low background music and plays his voice while he is sitting, starring at the videos of his father. As Hamlet replays the image of his father on screen, the camera slowly zooms in towards the screen in black and white. Hamlet tends to pause most of the videos that he sees, thinking about the memorable moments with his father. As the camera remains in the same spot, the shots were constantly alternating between Hamlet and the screen. Instead of the typical scene where Hamlet is inside the castle (or in this case, in his apartment), his "To be or not to be" speech begins inside a Blockbuster Video store, where he walks around the aisles glancing over the action movies on the shelves. He talks in a calm voice rather than loud and being greatly emotional. For the first half of the soliloquy, Ethan's voice is recorded in a slow, deep voice; however he begins talking for the second half. Despite of how the camera angles were changing constantly in the film, clips of the homemade videos that Hamlet made always repeated throughout the movie. One other interesting approach that was made was when Claudius began reciting his speech to the crowd. As the camera focuses on Hamlet, the camera makes a zoom towards Gertrude, fading the edges so it can focus on her, a great symbolism to let viewers know that she has his attention. This particular movie lacks the emotion that Hamlet should be feeling. Ethan Hawke's acting was not interesting. He tends to mumble his lines, which made it sound like a monotone voice. Despite his low enthusiasm, Hawke doesn't show much movement in the movie other than walking or running. Claudius and Gertrude (who is played by Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Venora) did show some strong emotion of making their characters more exciting and captivating. In comparison, the characters appearances seem to be younger than how Kenneth Branagh believes what they looked like, with Kyle MacLachlan being clean-cut and fancy while Derek Jacobi having facial hair and big, as many people today are attempting to look younger. Polonius and Ophelia were not engaged in this movie. Michael Almereyda has kept the ideal scene where Hamlet and Laertes fought in the fencing match. He locates the fencing field on the rooftops of a building, which is the only scene that was kept the same from the other Hamlet movies. For a movie that is set in the 21st century, there should have been something better to represent this scene in a more suitable way. With all of these audio remixes and editing, it seems as Hamlet didn't have to talk much, yet he is one of the protagonist in the movie. In terms of the movie's plot, set design, and choreography, this version of Hamlet seems to be more realistic than being as a play. People would see this movie as something that could potentially happen in today's society; however the movie did seem to look not as affectionate as the other versions.

In conclusion, both of these films have different versions of Hamlet. Both directors had used different music, costumes, setting, lighting, etc. From the two movies, it was clear to determine which version of Hamlet was most successful. Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet was not quite different to the older versions of Hamlet. As the director of the movie, he seems more motivated and energized from playing Hamlet. He was more into detail with props where people would consider the ideal setting for Shakespearian's plays. His idea of not removing any lines from the original text is a very difficult task to imagine, but Kenneth Branagh has managed to make his movie more enjoyable by interpreting enthusiastic characters and creating great sceneries. Overall, Michael Almereyda's Hamlet was least successful. His interpretation of the movie was to make Hamlet more modern. The movie does have some positive features but for most of the parts it was poor. The plot was more understandable for today's viewers since the movie is set at present time, yet combining Shakespearian text does not suit with the film. Ethan did not seem to be engaged with his character of 'crazy' Hamlet at all, Polonius and Ophelia were not interesting, being that they were not motivated and were seen to be "dead". In Hamlet, many of us would imagine the play involving lots of dramatic events and emotions. The setting in Branagh's Hamlet was much brighter, bigger, and vibrant, as well as the fine detail that were seen from every angle of the castle, which makes nothing in this movie look out of date. Kenneth Branagh was able to use all of those themes, elements and motifs in his film, making it very successful as a whole; therefore his version was most successful.

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Hamlet: Summary of Act V, Scene 1

Hamlet by William Shakespeare Summary of Act V, Scene 1

In the churchyard, two gravediggers are at work digging a grave. It is for Ophelia, and they discuss whether or not Ophelia should have the benefit of a Christian burial, since she committed suicide. They banter back and forth about whether Ophelia’s death “counts” as a suicide and note that gravediggers build the strongest “houses” of all, since the graves they dig last until the end of the world.

Horatio and Hamlet enter and watch the gravediggers at work. As the gravediggers work, they unearth the skulls of people who have been buried in the same churchyard in the past. Hamlet looks at these various skulls and muses on what their owners must have done during their lives.

Hamlet then asks the gravedigger whose grave he is digging. The gravedigger answers with riddles: first, he says it is his own grave because he is the one digging it, therefore the hole “belongs” to him; second, he says it belongs to no woman or man, since women and men are living creatures and graves are for the dead. Finally, he says it belongs to someone “that was a woman,” but now she is dead.

Hamlet asks how long the gravedigger has had his job; the gravedigger responds that he started work on the day the late king first defeated Fortinbras, the same day Hamlet was born. Hamlet picks up one of the discarded skulls, and the gravedigger tells him the skull once belonged to Yorick, the old king’s jester. Hamlet is appalled to find himself holding Yorick’s skull, since he knew Yorick when Hamlet himself was a child and remembers him fondly. Hamlet realizes that everyone dies, even great historical figures like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, and that their bodies disintegrate just like anyone else’s.

Just then, Ophelia’s funeral procession enters the churchyard, and Hamlet and Horatio hide themselves from sight. Hamlet notes how the procession looks “maimed,” which indicates the dead person committed suicide. He only realizes the funeral is for Ophelia when her body is laid into the grave.

While Hamlet is making these observations, Laertes blows up at the priest, who has said that it would profane the dead to give Ophelia, a suicide case, a proper Christian burial. He leaps into Ophelia’s grave and holds her corpse in his arms. Overwhelmed by fury and grief, Hamlet crashes the funeral, declaring his own love for Ophelia. He jumps into the grave to fight Laertes, insisting that no one could have loved Ophelia as much as he did – he even swears he would be buried alive with her in order to prove his love.

The funeral party breaks up the fight, and Claudius and Gertrude try to explain Hamlet’s behavior away as madness. Hamlet leaves, followed by Horatio, while the king urges Laertes to be patient and stick with the plan to kill Hamlet.

Scene 3 - Hamlet - A Comprehensive Analysis of Shakespeare s Greatest Tragedy

Hamlet - A Comprehensive Analysis of Shakespeare's Greatest Tragedy

SCENE III. A room in Polonius' house.

While we had a brief introduction to Polonius, Claudius’ chief adviser, and his son Laertes in the previous scene, we are about to meet his daughter Ophelia and learn a great deal about the dynamics of the House of Polonius, the latter’s relationship with his children, and a suggestion of the importance to come of the play’s second subplot, which, as we shall see, revolves around Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia.


Enter LAERTES and OPHELIA

LAERTES
My necessaries are embark'd: farewell:
And, sister, as the winds give benefit
And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,
But let me hear from you.

OPHELIA
Do you doubt that?

LAERTES
For Hamlet and the trifling of his favour,
Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,
A violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
The perfume and suppliance of a minute; No more.


The close relationship that exists between brother and sister is evident here, and like any ‘big brother,’ Laertes is concerned about the well-being of Ophelia in her relationship with Hamlet, warning her about the way ‘young guys’ are. In today’s parlance, he is essentially saying that the Prince is driven by his hormones.

LAERTES

Think it no more;
For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
In thews and bulk, but, as this temple waxes,
The inward service of the mind and soul
Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,
And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
The virtue of his will: but you must fear,
His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;
For he himself is subject to his birth:
He may not, as unvalued persons do,
Carve for himself; for on his choice depends
The safety and health of this whole state;
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
As he in his particular act and place
May give his saying deed; which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.

Appearing to give Hamlet the benefit of a doubt about the purity of his motives, Laertes nonetheless advises his sister to remember that in things marital, he really is not a ‘free-agent,’ that his choice of marriage partner will be greatly influenced by what is best for the country. One cannot help but draw a parallel here to the modern British monarchy and all of the unhappiness and tragedy that ensued because Prince Charles had to marry Diana, deemed most appropriate to be the consort of a future king, and not the love of his life, Camilla Parker-Bowles.


Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain,
If with too credent ear you list his songs,
Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
To his unmaster'd importunity.
Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister,
And keep you in the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire.


Laertes warns Ophelia that it is her reputation that will suffer, not his, should she succumb to Hamlet’s overtures. That the double standard has a long history is evident here.


The chariest maid is prodigal enough,
If she unmask her beauty to the moon:
Virtue itself 'scapes not calumnious strokes:
The canker galls the infants of the spring,
Too oft before their buttons be disclosed,
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
Contagious blastments are most imminent.
Be wary then; best safety lies in fear:
Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.


Even the most innocent can be defamed, and nature shows, through the metaphor of the canker, that the youngest and most promising can be destroyed before they reach maturity.


OPHELIA
I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.

It sounds here as if Ophelia knows her brother rather well, warning him to follow his own advice about modesty and not be a hypocrite. Her comments also reflect a keen awareness of a double standard that survives even to this day.


LAERTES
O, fear me not.
I stay too long: but here my father comes.


It sounds as if Laertes is not interested in being dawn into a discussion about his own behaviour, as he suddenly decides it is time to leave.

A double blessing is a double grace,
Occasion smiles upon a second leave.


What follows is another famous speech in the play, Polonius’ advice to his son as he is about to return to university. While it contains much wise counsel, there is, as we shall see, a bit of a problem with it:


LORD POLONIUS
Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay'd for. There; my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!


I have long thought that it is a mistake when directors and actors interpret Polonius as a buffoon. While it will become evident that he is long-winded and filled with a sense of his own importance, and likely well-past his prime as a dispenser of counsel to royalty, the above advice contains real wisdom, but it is wisdom undercut by an unenviable and small-minded philosophy.

Let’s start by breaking down what he says to his son:

Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

Simply put, Polonius is telling Laertes to think before he speaks, and to think carefully before he acts; in other words, don’t be impulsive. Who could really argue with that?

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

By this, he probably means to be sociable with people, but not to debase himself by giving away too many personal details. In other words, be somewhat aloof and not too common.

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade.

Again, this sounds like solid advice. Polonius is telling Laertes to recognize who his true friends are, people who have proven themselves, and treasure them. He warns him, however, to be cautious and suspicious about new people who enter his life; they will not necessarily be of the same caliber as his tried and true associates.

Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.


Cautioning him about becoming involved in arguments or fights, Polonius is telling his son that if he does get pulled into a dispute, manage it in such a way that the other person fears/respects him.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.


In other words, listen to what others have to say, but don’t say too much yourself. As well, accept each person’s opinion or view, but don’t offer your own.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station how he appears.
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

  • Telling Laertes to dress as well as he can afford to, Polonius warns him to not appear gaudy or loud, lest he be judged as unworthy of serious consideration. In other words, dress tastefully, showing a knowledge of good fashion.


    Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
    And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

    Probably one of the most well-known of Shakespearian passages, Polonius is warning his son to neither lend nor borrow money. By lending money to a friend, the chances are you will lose both the money and the friend. (Personal experience will verify the wisdom of this counsel.) He also advises Laertes to live within his means instead of borrowing to finance an extravagant lifestyle.

    This above all: to thine ownself be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.
    Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!


    I’ve always viewed this last passage as a bit of a non-sequitur; Polonius has just issued a series of precepts by which to live his life, and yet now he is telling his son to be true to himself, that is, to follow his own heart and instincts, as the measure of how to live his life. Sounds good, but it does seem to contradict everything that came before.

    Like so much else in the play, there is much more to the above guidelines issued by Polonius than meets the eye. As mentioned earlier, taken individually, each piece is indisputably sound, even wise, and worthy of serious consideration. However, it is in the aggregate, when we consider the underlying theme of the advice, that we find something not so wise and not so savory.

    First off, we have to consider to whom Polonius is giving this advice. His son is a young man, probably twenty or so. Youth, as we all know, is a time for experimentation and discovery, surely keys to forging an identity separate from that of our parents and finding our place in the world. Yet if we identify the unifying theme of the advice Laertes is being given, it is this: DON’T TAKE CHANCES! LIVE LIFE CAUTIOUSLY!

    I used to tell my students that if they didn’t want to face the possibility of being run down by a Mack truck or having their hearts broken or any number of the other unpleasant contingencies with which we can be confronted in life, they should simply opt to live in their parents’ basement. After all, if they went to university, they might meet up with some questionable people who could lead them astray; they might encounter new ideas that distress them, alter their perspectives, etc. They quickly saw through the folly of such advice, realizing that if they did not take any chances in life, they would never grow as individuals, that they would remain essentially as they were then in terms of outlook and understanding of the world, the people in it, and themselves.

    Ultimately, I don’t think it probably matters too much whether Polonius’ advice is prompted by love and concern for Laertes, or fear that somehow he will embarrass him by his behaviour. What does matter is that the advice to stagnate is something no parent should inflict upon his/her child.

    LAERTES
    Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

    LORD POLONIUS
    The time invites you; go; your servants tend.

    LAERTES
    Farewell, Ophelia; and remember well
    What I have said to you.

    OPHELIA
    'Tis in my memory lock'd,
    And you yourself shall keep the key of it.

    While what follows could simply be dismissed as a product of the times, when a daughter was completely subservient to her father, we cannot and should not divorce our modern sensibilities from evaluating the relationship between Polonius and Ophelia. To do so would be to overlook some important qualities of character that emerge about both of them.

    LORD POLONIUS
    What is't, Ophelia, be hath said to you?

    OPHELIA
    So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.

    LORD POLONIUS
    Marry, well bethought:
    'Tis told me, he hath very oft of late
    Given private time to you; and you yourself
    Have of your audience been most free and bounteous:
    If it be so, as so 'tis put on me,
    And that in way of caution, I must tell you,
    You do not understand yourself so clearly
    As it behoves my daughter and your honour.
    What is between you? give me up the truth.


    Polonius’ opening statement serves a couple of purposes. One, it reinforces the idea established by Laertes that Hamlet and Ophelia have a romantic relationship; two, it raises the question of whether or not Polonius’ intelligence about that relationship was obtained just by chance, as he implies, or by more underhanded means, as later developments suggest. As well, his demanding to know the nature of the relationship suggests, at best, an indifference to his daughter’s feelings in the matter. Also, a certain suspiciousness about her veracity is perhaps indicated by his demand that she “give [him] up the truth ” (italics mine.)


    OPHELIA
    He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
    Of his affection to me.

    Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl,
    Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
    Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

    OPHELIA
    I do not know, my lord, what I should think.


    The contrast between cynicism and innocence is clearly reflected in the above exchange. In terms that eerily echo Laertes’ sentiments, Polonius callously dismisses Ophelia’s trust by calling her “a green girl” who perceives not the danger posed by Hamlet. While it would be easy to assume that Polonius’ words are a reflection of his concern for his daughter’s well-being, the ensuing dialogue suggests otherwise:


    LORD POLONIUS
    Marry, I'll teach you: think yourself a baby;
    That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay,
    Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;
    Or--not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
    Running it thus--you'll tender me a fool.

    And there we have it. Polonius is afraid that indiscreet behaviour on the part of his daughter will make him look bad. He now sees it as his job to disabuse her of the notion that Hamlet could be acting honourably, with good intentions:

    OPHELIA
    My lord, he hath importuned me with love
    In honourable fashion.

    LORD POLONIUS
    Ay, fashion you may call it; go to, go to.

    OPHELIA
    And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
    With almost all the holy vows of heaven.

    LORD POLONIUS
    Ay, springes to catch woodcocks.


    Despite Ophelia’s defense of the Prince, her father dismisses the latter’s words with a cynical metaphor, saying that Hamlet’s apparent earnestness is merely a ply to catch Ophelia, a silly bird.

    I do know,
    When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
    Lends the tongue vows: these blazes, daughter,
    Giving more light than heat, extinct in both,
    Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
    You must not take for fire.

    Drawing upon his own experiences when he was young, Polonius appears to be judging Hamlet by his own base standards, again echoing what his son had earlier said to Ophelia.


    From this time
    Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence;
    Set your entreatments at a higher rate
    Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,
    Believe so much in him, that he is young
    And with a larger tether may he walk
    Than may be given you: in few, Ophelia,
    Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,
    Not of that dye which their investments show,
    But mere implorators of unholy suits,
    Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
    The better to beguile. This is for all:
    I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,
    Have you so slander any moment leisure,
    As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
    Look to't, I charge you: come your ways.
    OPHELIA
    I shall obey, my lord.

    After further disparaging Hamlet’s motives regarding Ophelia, Polonius tells her to stop seeing him immediately. Helpless to disobey her father, she acquiesces.

    Thus ends Scene 3, whose developments will have far-reaching consequences as the play progresses. Besides allowing us to peer behind the very proper public personas of Laertes and Polonius and thus explore the beginnings of one of the play’s themes (the disparity between appearances and reality), the scene introduces us to the play’s second subplot, sometimes called the Romantic Subplot. Like the Fortinbras subplot, it will support and ultimately merge with the play’s main plot, whose direction will be clear by the end of Act One.

    Next, we move back to the development of the main plot which, by now, the audience realizes revolves around the ghost and his purpose for visiting Elsinore.