PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me

TOPIC: "To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . .

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1147

". . . the most beautified Ophelia . . ."

Does anyone have an idea when this letter was written? Hamlet has been in a rather dark mood since he arrived home, so did he send it from Wittenberg before his father's death?

Also, we have Ophelia's "He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders/Of his affection to me." How do we define "of late"?
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1148

The letter is an indication that Hamlet and Ophelia used to engage in wooing by way of the courtly love conventions. Love letters could have been sent from afar as a way of bridging a physical distance or handed over directly as lovers' tokens - probably both. Ophelia mentions that she's refused Hamlet's letters since she was told to do so by her father and brother, which takes place in the play itself, so Hamlet must have sent/handed her some letters between those two scenes, i.e. after he was back from Wittenberg. It's a pretty good bet that the "beautified" letter is one of these, which Polonius intercepted, or which was dutifully given to him by Ophelia, due to his recent orders to her. I doubt she would have given him the older letters.

The letters ("remembrances") that she hands back to him could be both past and recent ones.

(Not that I'm personally convinced she actually does hand him some letters in that scene; "remembrances" might be something else; words, caresses - good memories which during the scene turn into harsh words. In the text, Ophelia's "Take these again" seems very much to refer to the words she's just then speaking. But maybe that's just me.)
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1149

Charles wrote:
". . . the most beautified Ophelia . . ."

Does anyone have an idea when this letter was written? Hamlet has been in a rather dark mood since he arrived home, so did he send it from Wittenberg before his father's death?

Also, we have Ophelia's "He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders/Of his affection to me." How do we define "of late"?

"Of late" means since Hamlet returned to Elsinore from Wittenberg. That's obviously the most reasonable interpretation.

The letter Polonius reads is probably from a time after Polonius tells Ophelia to refuse Hamlet's letters. When Ophelia refuses the letter, under her father's orders, the servant gives it to Polonius, instead. Polonius then reads it, etc. That would work out, directly, according to the timing.

The most straightforward interpretation is:

Shortly after Hamlet returned for his father's funeral, he and Ophelia caught each other's eyes, and their romance began. They started spending some time together, and Hamlet gave her some gifts, and wrote her some letters.

Then as we see in the play, Polonius forbade Ophelia to have any further contact with Hamlet. It's a good bet Polonius would also inform the servants to intercept any letters to Ophelia from Hamlet. The household servants are going to be Polonius's servants, of course, employed by him, the same as Reynaldo is. We see Polonius use Reynaldo to try to get information about Laertes. By the same token, Polonius would probably use the servants to intercept letters from Hamlet to Ophelia. It would simply be the same kind of thing. And Polonius does mention he had already interrogated the servants about Hamlet and Ophelia spending time together. (Letter delivery in the Castle is not by US Mail, of course - :) - the letters are handled by servants.)

Then, Hamlet wrote Ophelia the letter. Either she refused it under her father's orders, or the servant gave it to Polonius, instead, and Ophelia never saw it. Either way, Polonius got hold of it.

The reason why Polonius wanted the letters, is that they're tangible proof of Hamlet's statements of love to Ophelia. Polonius doesn't trust what Hamlet, himself, would say if asked about it. The reason for that, is because of what Ophelia told him about Hamlet rushing into her room. Ophelia reported that Hamlet didn't say anything at all. It leaves Polonius worried that if Hamlet is asked directly, he might clam up.

The letters are tangible proof, regardless of what Hamlet might now say. That's why Polonius is waving the letters around and reading them - the letters are his tangible evidence.

Indeed, the letter Polonius reads aloud could easily be Hamlet's "apology letter," so to speak, that he wrote after he rushed into Ophelia's room. And it could easily be that Polonius used the servants to intercept it, and she never saw it. That isn't explicit in the play, but the timing works directly for that, and it also accounts for why Polonius is so confident when he suggests hiding to listen, in what becomes the Nunnery Scene.

For that, the sequence of events:

Hamlet rushes to Ophelia's room. After he leaves, he realizes he's probably upset her. He writes her a brief letter, intending to reassure her that he still loves her. A servant intercepts the letter, under Polonius's orders, and gives it to Polonius. Polonius reads the letter, and sees Hamlet express love for Ophelia after Hamlet rushed to her room. Then, totally confident, Polonius suggests, to Claudius, the spying plan that becomes the Nunnery Scene.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1150

sorensonian wrote:
The letters ("remembrances") that she hands back to him could be both past and recent ones.

(Not that I'm personally convinced she actually does hand him some letters in that scene; "remembrances" might be something else; ...

It is explicitly stated in the play what the "remembrances" are: they are gifts.

A "remembrance" is a keepsake type of gift. It is a gift that has mainly sentimental value.

The "remembrances" are not the letters. Polonius has kept the letters as his tangible proof, of Hamlet's love for Ophelia, which is why Polonius wanted the letters in the first place.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1151

Polonius states about the "beautified" letter that "this in obedience hath my daughter shown me". So, whether read or unread, the letter did reach Ophelia.

When Hamlet is silently in Ophelia's closet, she describes his perusal of her face: "Long stay'd he so". Where do you get the "rushing" that you mention no less than four times? Doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to me.

Also, the closet scene, to me, denotes Hamlet's taking his leave of Ophelia, i.e. putting an end (in his own mind, mainly) to their former, very intimate relationship, because his revenge project (which also requires his pretending to be mad) won't leave much room for their romance. In such a case it doesn't seem likely to me that he would latterly write her a letter of apology. But I suppose it's possible that he changes his mind.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1152

sorensonian wrote:
Polonius states about the "beautified" letter that "this in obedience hath my daughter shown me". So, whether read or unread, the letter did reach Ophelia.

Polonius is lying, of course. There's no chance Ophelia gave him her love letters voluntarily. Polonius is lying to try to excuse himself for his possession of the letters, which are Hamlet's private mail, as well as Ophelia's.

At that point in the play, we've already seen Polonius dispatch Reynaldo on a campaign of lies and slander against Laertes, Polonius's own son. Polonius is not an honest man, nor anything close to an honest parent. Polonius's assertions, anywhere in the play, always have to be examined in light of the established fact that he's a liar. Polonius is so dishonest, he even lies to Reynaldo while he's ordering Reynaldo to lie about Laertes.

A person has to keep the characterizations in mind in order to interpret the play correctly, and also use some common sense. Girls do not voluntarily hand over their love letters to their fathers. Polonius took the love letters without Ophelia's consent, (or Hamlet's,) so Polonius's claim means nothing as to whether Ophelia ever even saw that letter.
When Hamlet is silently in Ophelia's closet, she describes his perusal of her face: "Long stay'd he so". Where do you get the "rushing" that you mention no less than four times? Doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to me.

From the earlier speech, of course. You're looking at the wrong speech. Hamlet didn't even take time to dress properly. That means he was in a great hurry.
Also, the closet scene, ...

The Nunnery Scene. I've already provided a walkthrough of that scene in another thread, which presents Hamlet's motivations.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1154

Polonius may well have been lying (I'm inclined to think so myself as well, if for no other reason than that I believe Ophelia should be played as a much more spirited and much less demure person, whose reverence for her father is really mockery), but I don't think we can say it with any more certainty than that. I think we should remain open to alternate interpretations; very different interpretations of this play can make a lot of sense in each their own way.
Willedever wrote:
sorensonian wrote:
When Hamlet is silently in Ophelia's closet, she describes his perusal of her face: "Long stay'd he so". Where do you get the "rushing" that you mention no less than four times? Doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to me.

From the earlier speech, of course. You're looking at the wrong speech. Hamlet didn't even take time to dress properly. That means he was in a great hurry.

That he was sloppily clothed could mean a variety of things. That he was depressed, or sad. That he was indifferent. Melancholy. Preoccupied. That he didn't stand on ceremony. To gloss it as that he was in a great hurry is, at best, one possible among several interpretations.
Willedever wrote:
Also, the closet scene, ...

The Nunnery Scene.

No, I did mean the closet scene, with his doublet all unbraced.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1155

sorensonian wrote:
Polonius may well have been lying (I'm inclined to think so myself as well, if for no other reason than that I believe Ophelia should be played as a much more spirited and much less demure person, whose reverence for her father is really mockery), but I don't think we can say it with any more certainty than that.

It's a certainty Polonius is lying. He unintentionally admits it, but that takes a while to explain.

Ophelia is not mocking her father early in the play. She does after she's mad, particularly when she tells Gertrude, "Mark!"
... very different interpretations of this play can make a lot of sense in each their own way.

The correct interpretation is the one that works for the words Shakespeare actually wrote. That's what I've been presenting. People who can't read Hamlet, or who don't want to, can imagine it means anything.
That he [Hamlet] was sloppily clothed could mean a variety of things.

It means he was in a great hurry. ;)

Hamlet, himself, tells us that later. A person has to read the play to know that, of course.
To gloss it as that he was in a great hurry is, at best, one possible among several interpretations.

What I wrote is the only literate interpretation. Most people can't read Hamlet, or have never seriously tried.
Willedever wrote:
The Nunnery Scene.

No, I did mean the closet scene, with his doublet all unbraced.

"Closet scene" is the term used for Scene 11, which is Act 3 scene 4, when Hamlet goes to Gertrude's closet. There's no particular term that's been adopted for Scene 6 (A2s1.)

Hamlet rushed to Ophelia's closet because he had a nightmare about her. That's one reason why he later mentions "bad dreams."

By the way, if you think Hamlet does anything because he's "pretending to be mad" you will never understand the play.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1156

I am still having a problem connecting: How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/Seem to me all the uses of this world! with: ...of late (Hamlet) made many tenders/Of his affection to me. A Hamlet who in one moment is sure that Frailty, thy name is woman! and in the next can write: I love thee best, O most best, believe it.

I haven't found evidence that Hamlet was in Wittenberg when his father died, but I believe that he did leave for Wittenberg in good spirits after having importuned Ophelia with love in an honourable fashion and probably his last letter to her was the one read by Polonius to the king and queen.

Claudius would have taken advantage of Hamlet's departure to act but Hamlet would also have been able to return rather quickly - so that Ophelia's and Polonius' of late refer to his affectionate behavior to Ophelia prior to his departure.

Given the death of his father and the marriage of his mother, Hamlet distanced himself from everyone and Ophelia understood and accepted that coolness. However, after the ghost, Hamlet resigned himself to revenge, not love, and realized he must end his relationship with Ophelia.
He sent her a sweet but sad note that was repelled and then his access was denied. This caused him to become more depressed which resulted in his visit to Ophelia. Hamlet accepted this estrangement with frustration and anger as we see in his Conception is a blessing and Jephthah comments to Polonius and his eventual verbal and emotional violence toward Ophelia in the nunnery scene.

Regards, Charles
The administrator has disabled public write access.

"To the celestial, and my soul's idol . . . 7 years 2 months ago #1157

Charles wrote:
I haven't found evidence that Hamlet was in Wittenberg when his father died, ...

Where was he, then?

Hamlet was at the university in Wittenberg when informed that his father had died. He then came to Elsinore Castle, of course. When Claudius was elected king instead of Hamlet, Hamlet wanted to return to Wittenberg, as we see in the play.
Given the death of his father and the marriage of his mother, Hamlet distanced himself from everyone ...

Then what is Polonius worried about?

Hamlet rushed to Ophelia's room because he had a nightmare about her.

I've already done a walkthrough of the Nunnery Scene in this forum, and if people would read that carefully and learn it, they would actually learn something about Hamlet. Actually learning something about Hamlet would be a novel experience for most people.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
Moderators: William Shakespeare
Time to create page: 0.421 seconds
 
Banner