In one of the most well-known monologues in British Literature, Hamlet contemplates the purpose of life, wondering if the miseries and struggles experienced by people mean that life is not worth living. In his famous words, “To be, or not to be: that is the question” (Shakespeare III.i.56), Hamlet considers suicide as a way to remedy his troubles. As Ophelia enters, he begins criticizing her intention to marry as a way of breeding more sinners (Shakespeare III.i.121-122).
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Throughout the scene, Hamlet’s speech is filled with misery and self-hatred; however, Ophelia does not understand the reason for his melancholy, believing that he had gone mad (Shakespeare III.i.150). In some ways, this scene represents the conflict between Hamlet and the society he lives in, as no one is capable of understanding his concerns. Hamlet sees all the failures of society and is troubled by them, which leads him to feel misunderstood and alone.
His attempt to send Ophelia to the nunnery is desperate and irrational, but it also depicts his desire to change society. Ophelia, on the other hand, represents the society that is deaf to Hamlet’s urges for change. On the whole, the scene depicts the conflict between Hamlet and society, showing exactly how he differs from the people surrounding him.
Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet.” Shakespeare Online, n.d. Web.