Hamlet Act 5

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Hamlet Act 5 Scene 1 (Lines 227-266)
Act 5 scene 1 depicts burial ritual of Ophelia, the main women character of the play, who committed suicide. The scene under analysis portrays psychological burden and pressure caused by her death. Shakespeare describes that death of Ophelia is heavy for her relatives and Hamlet. The passage has an important meaning for the whole play unveiling traditions and values of the society, and confrontations between Hamlet and Laertes. The passage opens with a conversation between Laertes, Ophelia’s brother and a priest who doubts about Christian ritual he has to perform. “As we have warranty: her death was doubtful; and, but that great command o'ersways the order” (lines 227-228). According to Christian traditions, a person who commits suicide cannot have a burial service. For this reason, the priest argues with Laertes and refuses to perform a mass. This important motif shows that religion plays a crucial role in society, but some religious dogmas can be changed by monarchs and wealthy aristocracy. Priest insists: “Shards, flints and pebbles should be thrown on her; yet here she is allow'd her virgin crants” (lines 231-232). Suicide is a symbol of sin and guilt, which cannot be washed (Ophelia drowns). The death of Ophelia becomes a real tragedy for her family and Hamlet. Queen Gertrude cries: “I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife: I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid” (lines 243-244). The evolution of emotional perception of the world and values is depicted through the state of grief and madness. On the other hand, this episode show that everyone is responsible for her own actions and subconscious persuasion has no effects. This causes lack of coincidence between reality and madness, since Ophelia is struggling to suppress her feelings but fails. Hamlet does not know about death of his beloved Ophelia but recognizes Queen Gertrude who spreads flowers. “What is he whose grief Bears such an emphasis?...
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