Hamlet’s ‘Get thee to a nunnery’ decided to Ophelia is a memorable minute in a play complete of memorable moments. Before we analyse his speech, this is a reminder the the appropriate section that the play, i beg your pardon is discovered in act 3 scene 1, not long after Hamlet’s well known ‘To be, or not to be’ soliloquy.
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Get thee come a nunnery! Why wouldst thou it is in a breeder the sinners? ns am myself indifferent honest however yet I can accuse me the such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. Ns am really proud, revengeful, ambitious, with an ext offences at my beck 보다 I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to provide them shape, or time to act castle in. What need to such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We space arrant knaves – think none the us. Walk thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s her father?
At home, mine lord.
Let the doors be shut upon him the he may play the fool nowhere yet in’s own house. Farewell.
O, assist him, girlfriend sweet heavens!
If you dost marry, I’ll offer thee this afflict for your dowry: be thou together chaste together ice, as pure together snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Obtain thee come a nunnery. Farewell. Or, if she wilt requirements marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well sufficient what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery go, and also quickly too. Farewell.
Heavenly powers restore him.
I have actually heard of your paints well enough. God has offered you one face and you do yourselves another. Girlfriend jig and amble and also you lisp, girlfriend nickname god’s creatures and make your wantonness ignorance. Walk to, i’ll no much more on’t. That hath make me mad. I say us will have no much more marriage. Those that are married currently – all but one – candlestick live. The rest shall save as castle are. To a nunnery, go!
After Hamlet has actually left the stage, Ophelia laments the reality that Hamlet’s ‘noble mind’ has been ‘overthrown’ by madness. Or so that seems: that has, in reality, solved ‘to put an antic disposition on’, as he confided to Horatio in plot 1 step 5, and also is only pretending to it is in mad. Or is he? walk he, in fact, walk genuinely mad throughout the course of the play? It becomes harder to tell. Nevertheless, Hamlet’s madness (real or feigned at this point) is important context for the ‘Get thee come a nunnery’ speech.
With the in mind, stop go with the speech much more closely and also summarise – and analyse – that is meaning.
Get thee to a nunnery! Why wouldst thou be a breeder the sinners? i am myself indifferent honest however yet I can accuse me of such things that that were far better my mother had actually not borne me.
Let’s begin with that opened instruction, ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’ Hamlet speak Ophelia – with whom he has previously been romantically connected – to walk to a convent and become a nun, swearing off men, marriage, and also bearing children. After ~ all, all ladies who offer birth to guys are breeders the ‘sinners’, because all men are sinners.
Hamlet extends this accusation come himself: he tells united state he is sensibly virtuous (‘indifferent honest’), yet even he could it is in accused (by himself) of things which room objectionable enough to do his mommy wish she’d never provided birth come him.
It has actually been said that Hamlet is utilizing ‘nunnery’ below as (ironic) slang because that ‘brothel’, and there is some proof for ‘nunnery’ being in use at the time with this meaning. The more immediate problem with together an interpretation, in relationship to ‘Get thee to a nunnery’, is that Hamlet is do the efforts to guide Ophelia not to breed, so acquisition ‘nunnery’ at challenge value as ‘convent’ below makes much more sense.
I am an extremely proud, revengeful, ambitious, with much more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to placed them in, creative thinking to provide them shape, or time come act lock in.
Hamlet proceeds by listing some of his ‘sins’ or faults: that is proud, revengeful (true enough: he’s in the process of seek revenge versus his uncle because that the killing of his father), ambitious (well, he has ambitions come avenge his father!), and also has various other ‘offences’ in ~ his ‘beck’ (i.e. Summons; compare the modern phrase ‘at my beck and also call’): also many, in fact, to think about, or because that his mental to form into perfect schemes. And there aren’t enough hours in the day because that him to put all of these sinful thoughts into practice!
What have to such fellows as I do crawling between earth and also heaven? We room arrant knaves – think none the us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s her father?
Hamlet climate asks a rhetorical question: those the suggest of someone prefer him, ‘crawling’ (like a wretch, quite than a noble man) between earth and heaven? (Hamlet’s expression ‘between earth and also heaven’ seems fairly odd, yet may be suggested by his encounter through the Ghost in act 1; that is thinking around his father, who is dead but not yet welcomed right into Heaven, instead dwelling in Purgatory while the waits for his spirit to be cleansed.)
Hamlet’s ‘We space arrant knaves’ is sometimes rendered together ‘arrant knaves all’ (in the first printing the the play, the very first Quarto, ‘all’ adheres to ‘knaves’): he method that all men are downright scoundrels, a ‘knave’ gift a corrupt or unscrupulous man. Therefore Ophelia should believe none of the promises men make her: they room not to be trusted. (Since Hamlet has already included self in this denunciation of all men, his explain ‘believe none of us’ verges on a dual bind, or a sports on the Cretan liar paradox: if all males are knaves and also Hamlet is a knave too, and no knaves must be believed, have to Ophelia think Hamlet as soon as he tells her they space all knaves? however we acquire his gist …
At home, mine lord.
Hamlet asks Ophelia whereby her father is. Polonius, Ophelia’s father, is spying ~ above Hamlet, and it might be the Hamlet suspects as much. But his concern here much more immediately relates to what follows: the is questioning her where her dad is for this reason he can deliver his quip around men staying home to be stupid in their own house.
Let the doors it is in shut upon him the he may play the fool nowhere however in’s own house. Farewell.
There we have it! Hamlet’s inquiry to Ophelia was the setup to this punchline. Sure enough, Polonius is a fool, par excellence. Hamlet’s suggest is that men are much better off continuing to be at residence so nobody else besides their nearest and also dearest witness your folly.
O, aid him, girlfriend sweet heavens!
There is a pattern and rhythm to this final section that the ‘Get thee to a nunnery’ scene: Hamlet bids Ophelia farewell numerous times, while she utters a personal aside come the heavens several times, in the hope that some help can be discovered for Hamlet’s noticeable madness.
If she dost marry, I’ll give thee this afflict for your dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure together snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Acquire thee come a nunnery. Farewell. Or, if thou wilt demands marry, marry a fool, for wise men understand well sufficient what monsters you make of them. Come a nunnery go, and also quickly too. Farewell.
Hamlet conflates the role of the father (who usually offers the woman’s dowry as soon as she marries) and the fiancé (he was, ~ all, romantically connected with Ophelia himself), and tells her the if she does obtain married, that will provide her through a ‘plague’ or curse for her dowry: the curse is the no matter how chaste and pure she is, she will certainly not prevent being slandered.
So, Ophelia need to go come a nunnery and resolve not to marry. Or, if she insists ~ above marrying a man, marry a foolish one, due to the fact that wise men know that females make ‘monsters’ of them – ‘monsters’ right here usually analysed together a synonym for ‘cuckolds’, i.e. Women cuckold your husbands by resting with other men. Cuckolds were portrayed as males with horns, so this defines Hamlet’s an option of word.
Heavenly powers gain back him.
I have heard of your paints well enough. God has provided you one face and you do yourselves another. You jig and also amble and you lisp, you nickname god’s creatures and make your wantonness ignorance. Walk to, ok no more on’t. The hath do me mad. I say us will have no much more marriage. Those that are married currently – all yet one – chandelier live. The rest shall save as castle are. To a nunnery, go!
By ‘paintings’ Hamlet is referring to women’s make-up: God, or nature, offers them one face, yet they urge on falsifying the one by creating a false challenge through the use of cosmetics.
Even the means women relocate seems to annoy Hamlet, or the way they affect specific habits of speech (‘lisp’). It’s much less clear why giving nicknames come ‘God’s creatures’ must offend Hamlet so much. The been suggested (e.g. Through Ann Thompson and also Neil Taylor in their notes glossing this section of the play, in the great edition Hamlet: revised Edition (The Arden Shakespeare 3rd Series)
But despite – or, perhaps, because of – this emotional intensity and also complexity, actors down the eras have been keen to placed their very own stamp ~ above the role, including David Garrick (who had actually a special wig the made Hamlet’s hair was standing on end when the ghost of his father appeared), Laurence Olivier, john Gielgud, Mel Gibson, buy it Bernhardt (one of countless women come portray the Prince that Denmark: view the image below), Ethan Hawke, Keanu Reeves, Kenneth Branagh, Maxine Peake, and also even john Wilkes Booth, the guy who assassinated Abraham Lincoln.
Hamlet is often characterised as ‘a guy who cannot consist of his mind’. Indeed, the publicity because that Laurence Olivier’s commemorated 1948 film of Hamlet made lot of this summary of Hamlet’s character. The words that have tendency to come up as soon as people try to analyse the personality or personality the Hamlet room indecisive, delaying, and also uncertain, v ‘inaction’ gift the an essential defining attribute of what Hamlet actually does during the play. Certainly, the poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge assumed Hamlet’s key fault was his indecision: the detected ‘an almost enormous intellectual task and a proportionate aversion to real action consequent ~ above it’ – i.e., Hamlet is much better at thinking about doing points than in reality doing them.
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And however we might argue that Hamlet doesn’t exactly delay, or in ~ least, the does not hold-up because he is indecisive, but for sound, practical reasons. Hamlet cannot be sure that the Ghost really is the heart of his dead father, and also not part fiend that’s been sent out to reason mischief and goad him to murder. Therefore he needs to find out even if it is Claudius really is guilty that murdering Hamlet Senior, and thus even if it is the Ghost can be trusted.