Q to F7: Mate; Hamlet's Emotions, Actions, and Importance in the Nunnery Scene

"Like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh" Hamlet's trust is betrayed by the people who are dearest to his heart (III.i.87). The theme of betrayal takes root before the Shakespeare's tragedy begins, when Hamlet's uncle murders his father and marries his mother. These enormous betrayals, along with other pointed deceptions, justify many of Hamlet's words and actions. A striking example of the deceit Hamlet endures can be scene in act three, scene one of Hamlet: the nunnery scene. When Hamlet steps through the entryway he walks into a web of secrets, deception, and dishonesty. Determined to discover the nature of Hamlet's madness, the king and Polonius have summoned Hamlet to a place where they know he will "run into" Ophelia under their observation; the scene is a set-up. Hamlet is spied on by his stepfather and lied to by his love in this moment of cruel deceit.

In Olivier's 1948 film version of Shakespeare's Hamlet, the nunnery scene allows Hamlet to articulate his frustration without confronting his enemies. Hamlet enters the scene fully aware of its contrived nature, like an actor taking his place on the stage. The ensuing performance is that of a narcissistic child...

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