Back to Exhibition

Ophelia’s madness, Act IV, scenes v-vi

Ophelia’s madness, Act IV, scenes v-vi

Excerpt from "Hamlet," SparkNotes: 

As befits a scene full of anger and dark thoughts, Act IV, scene v brings a repetition of the motif of insanity, this time through the character of Ophelia, who has truly been driven mad by the death of her father. Shakespeare has demonstrated Ophelia’s chaste dependence on the men in her life; after Polonius’s sudden death and Hamlet’s subsequent exile, she finds herself abruptly without any of them. Ophelia’s lunatic ravings reveal a great deal about the nature of her mind at this stage in her young life. She is obsessed with death, beauty, and an ambiguous sexual desire, expressed in startlingly frank imagery: 

Young men will do’t, if they come to’t,

By Cock, they are to blame.

Quoth she

‘Before you tumbled me,

You promised me to wed.’ 


Link to full text source: "Hamlet," SparkNotes -

Image source: Circulating Collection, Print and Picture Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia. Subject: "Hamlet" -- Shakespeare.

Back to Exhibition