The Nunnery Scene

892 Words4 Pages
Deception and the impossibility of certainty are two of the most pertinent and important theme of Hamlet, a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at the beginning of the 17th century. In Act 3, Scene 1 Hamlet works himself into a rage while he is speaking with Ophelia. This scene, commonly known as the Nunnery Scene, encapsulates and presents both of these main themes in three points: Hamlet is being spied on by Polonius and Claudius, Ophelia refuses to reply to any questions from Hamlet with an exact answer, and the certainty of Hamlet’s madness is unknown. Hamlet is being spied on by Polonius and Claudius. Polonius decided, and Claudius agreed with, the plan to set Hamlet up. They set up Ophelia so that she runs into Hamlet. Polonius and Claudius want to eavesdrop on their conversation because both are exceptionally suspicious of Hamlet’s behavior and new found “madness”. Polonius originally assumes that the reason for Hamlet’s unusual comportment is the result of “the affliction of his love” (3.1.36) for Ophelia. Polonius has Ophelia pretend to read a pray book in order to not be construed as suspiciously concealing herself in an abandoned corridor, and Hamlet will not be suspect to her actions. Polonius’ and Claudius’ deception stems from the uncertainty of the cause of Hamlet’s behavior. If Polonius and Claudius knew why Hamlet became irrational then they would have no need to create a scheme for the prince. After Hamlet leaves, Polonius and Claudius come out from hiding and Claudius concludes that the reason for the strange behavior is not caused by Ophelia. However, Polonius still believes that Hamlet has been driven mad with love. The conclusion of the nunnery scene further develops the theme of deception and impossibil... ... middle of paper ... ...s when alone. If Hamlet is alone then he has no reason to be acting irrational yet he does. Having such a magnitude of intensity to his behavior supports that idea that not all of it is faked. Perhaps Hamlet is deceiving himself in thinking that he is only pretending to be crazy. Ultimately, Hamlet is a play that is filled with double meanings and hidden intentions. The Nunnery Scene acts as an amplifier to two of the biggest themes of this play, deception and uncertainty. Most of the cause of deception and the impossibility of certain are caused by Hamlet “playing” mad. The behavior of these four characters in this scene highlights these themes so strongly because it portrays deceptions among characters that supposedly trust each other, an unclear description of an important relationship, and forces the audience to question what is real and what is not in Hamlet.
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