", Ophelia replies, "
Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so
". And when Hamlet retires from thescene; Ophelia speaks of herself as being "
of ladies most deject and wretched
". Dr. Johnson declares of Hamlet - “
He plays the madman most, when he treats Ophelia with so much rudeness
”. But Hamletdoes not reject Ophelia but her love. The frailties he will later denounce in his mother he foresees in her.He directs at her a diatribe against face painting and cuckolding and all the sins traditional to woman. Yetthe first sin that he refers are his own “
Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered
”. With theexample of his mother who made “
marriage vows as false as dicers’ vow
” Hamlet fears that Ophelia will prove false. Just as Othello’s heroic vision of love is, after his disillusionment, replaced with a bitter certainty of universal lustfulness, Hamlet also recoils at what love and marriage lead to.When we next hear of Ophelia, it is to learn of her madness. The Gentleman prepares us for her entrance by describing her actions for the Queen. According to him Ophelia talks much of her father andsays there are deceptions in the world. Her first words upon entering are, "
Where is the beauteousmajesty of Denmark?"
Surely she is not talking of her father here, since the words fit neither what weknow of Polonius nor what a girl would say of a father who fails to understand her. Nor is there anyreason why Gertrude should be the subject of her question. Hamlet, then, is the "
"; it isupon Hamlet that her mind in its madness dwells. And the first of the song-snatches she sings is about"
“How should I your true love knowFrom another one?By his cockle hat and staff, And his sandal shoon.”
Surely it cannot be Polonius.
King has already made his entrance; he now greets Ophelia: "
How do you, pretty lady?
" She responds to the greeting in the conventional fashion, scarcely noticing him. Shethen
sixteen lines of immodest verse on sexual love, the effect of which underlines strongly thechief cause of her madness.When Ophelia re-enters later in the scene, her brother is on stage; as he sees her madness hespeaks of her in extravagant terms of sorrow, concluding somewhat enigmatically that human nature isdelicate in matters of love, and when it is so “
it sends some previous instance of itself after the thing it loves
". Immediately following the words of Laertes, Ophelia sings more snatches of songs. The first