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This monologue has been intercut from a scene in which a mad Ophelia speaks. Laertes and King Claudius are also in the room. The following is a summary and analysis of the scene:
At this point, just as it appears that the King is getting Laertes to calm down, there's more trouble. The mob outside begins rumbling again, and we hear someone say "Let her come in!" Ophelia has apparently gotten free of her keepers, and she comes back into the room, alone, and very deranged.
Traditionally, she appears--in the sixteenth-century phrase--"with her hair about her ears," and carrying flowers. As soon as Laertes sees her, he understands that she has gone mad. His first reaction is horror; he doesn't want to look at what he's seeing, saying "tears seven times salt, / Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!" (4.5.155-156). In other words, he wishes that his tears could make him blind. His next thought is of revenge, and he promises that someone will have to pay for his sister's madness. Last, he mourns. He addresses his sister as "O rose of May! / Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!" (4.5.158-159). Then he asks if a young woman's wits can be destroyed as easily as an old man's life, and decides that Ophelia loved her father so much that her sanity followed him to the grave.
As before, Ophelia sings. Now she seems to be singing of how her father was carried to his grave, never to return. But before she finishes singing the song, Ophelia passes out flowers. Today, we associate roses with love, and lilies with Easter. In Shakespeare's time, many flowers had meaning, and it seems that Ophelia's flowers have some kind of mad meaning. Perhaps the rosemary for remembrance and the pansies for thought go to Laertes, who remembers his father and thinks about his sister. The fennel for flattery and the columbines for ingratitude could go to the King. Ophelia has some rue, for sorrow and repentance, and maybe she gives some to the Queen, with the comment that "you must wear your rue with a difference" (4.5.183), because the Queen's sorrow and repentance are not the same as Ophelia's. There's a daisy for dissembling, which could also go to the Queen, or perhaps the King. Finally, there's violets for faithfulness. Ophelia says of them: "I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died: they say he made a good end" (4.5.184-186). Then Ophelia sings again of a funeral, and says goodbye, and is gone.
Shakespeare's Navigators Contributors, "Hamlet Navigator: Summary of Act4, Scene 5,"Shakespeare's Navigators @ Clicknotes.com, http://www.clicknotes.com/hamlet/Four5.html (accessed December 30, 2009).
Rating: Suitable for all ages
Copyright Status: Public domain
AuthorName: William Shakespeare
Eras: 1601-1700, 1501-1600
[sings] They bore him barefac'd on the bier (Hey non nony, nony, hey nony) And in his grave...View Full Monologue Text
They bore him barefac'd on the bier
(Hey non nony, nony, hey nony)
And in his grave rain'd many a tear.
Fare you well, my dove!
You must sing 'A-down a-down, and you call him a-down-a.' O, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, that stole his master's daughter.
There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.
There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father died. They say he made a good end. [sings] For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.
And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead;
Go to thy deathbed;
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan.
God 'a'mercy on his soul!
And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God b' wi' you.
Ophelia's Mad Scene, Part 2 - Mariah Gale (BBC, 20