The repetition of words with meaning of beauty is conveyed throughout this passage from Act IV scene v of Hamlet. Earlier in Act III scene i, Hamlet and Ophelia had a discussion about “fairness” and chastity. Literary features such as double entendre and pun are used constantly to enhance a character’s emotions as the theme lunacy unfolds to reveal more about characters.
As this passage climaxes with Ophelia’s insanity, secrets and the personality of each character are revealed through her singing. Perhaps Shakespeare is trying to convey the message that women are bound by societal expectations and are thus silenced and taught to obey and not talk back or express their own ideas. Since women are not allowed to “speak,” Ophelia can only express her thoughts and “speak” her mind by singing out loud. Unfortunately, society has defined Ophelia as a lunatic, therefore her senseless words are dismissed by the people. Throughout Ophelia’s singing, the Queen constantly interrupts her with questions that continue to build up on the theme of questioning in this play. Ophelia in return, pauses her singing and asks for the Queen’s attention by hearing her out: “Pray you mark,” she says. She sings of Hamlet, her lost love and of her father’s death. “He is dead and gone, /At his head a grass-green turf, /At his heels a stone.”
As Claudius enters this scene, he greets the lunatic Ophelia as “pretty lady,” prettiness resurfaces. Ophelia in return greets the king with words that seem to hint what Claudius has done. “good dild you,” and “God be at your table” refers to karma and as Hamlet has brought up earlier in the play, the idea that we are not at where we eat but where we’ll be eaten.
Disturbed and naïve, Claudius believed that Ophelia merely refers to her father but continues to refer to what Hamlet has said to her during their last encounter: beauty and chastity do not go hand in hand. Ophelia sings another song about her relationship with Hamlet and reveals that she is...