Here, the prince denies ever having loved Ophelia, right after claiming that he did love her once. This may be just a game Hamlet is playing, but perhaps he means that what seemed like love to him once now seems false and repulsive. Using a horticultural metaphor, he casts doubt on his own motives: the "old stock" (original nature) of man is so corrupt that the grafting of virtue can never wholly eradicate the "relish" (taste) of corruption. In his famous line"Get thee to a nunn'ry" he exhorts Ophelia to put herself away so that she may never breed sinners like Hamlet.
Specialists in Shakespeare's bawdy language are fond of noting that "nunnery" was common Elizabethan slang for "brothel," and that therefore Hamlet's command is ironic and even more despairing than it seems. The pun would accord with the paradoxical nature of the prince's speech, but there is little evidence elsewhere in the scene that Hamlet intends a double entendre.
Macrone, Michael. "Get thee to a nunnery." Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Cader Company, 1990. eNotes.com. 2007. 29 Dec, 2009
Get thee to a nunnery! Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am...View Full Monologue Text
Get thee to a nunnery! Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do, crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your father?
Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in's own house. Farewell.
If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery. Go, farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too. Farewell.
I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. You jig, you amble, and you lisp; you nickname God's creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't! it hath made me mad. I say, we will have no moe marriages. Those that are married already- all but one- shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.
Age Range: 20s - Late, 30s - Early, 30s - Late
Dialects: Standard American, Standard English
Rating: Suitable for all ages
Copyright Status: Public domain
AuthorName: William Shakespeare
Eras: 1601-1700, 1501-1600