• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore the themes and techniques of the Nunnery scene in Hamlet

Extracts from this document...


Explore the themes and techniques of the Nunnery scene in 'Hamlet' 'Hamlet', a play by William Shakespeare, is probably the most popular of Shakespeare's play. It has been adapted into ten films and numerous TV productions and stage plays making it the most adapted plays out all of Shakespeare's works. One of the most famous scenes in 'Hamlet' is the Nunnery scene. This scene proves to be a pinnacle point in the play as prior to the nunnery scene Hamlet recites his most famous speech "To be or not to be". The nunnery scene is what defines the play as it highlights the deceit and the betrayal which is apparent throughout the whole play. What remains elusive is the disposition of Hamlet. Is he mad? Is he sexist? All of these attributes were hinted at during the Nunnery scene but were not actually revealed. The relevance to the time period in which the play was written will be analysed so as to understand the influences behind 'Hamlet' as a whole. One thing that one should acknowledge is the fact that the tragedy that is Hamlet is based on deceit. Hamlet has found out from the ghost of his father that he was murdered by his brother Claudius (Hamlet's uncle). Naturally, Hamlet has sworn revenge, especially since Claudius has married his mother Gertrude. Therefore, he has been betrayed by his uncle and his mother who married his uncle in less than a month after his father's death. ...read more.


Indeed when Hamlet leaves, Ophelia says her only soliloquy in which she states her belief that Hamlet is truly mad. Claudius, however, is less convinced and believes that Hamlet suspects something regarding Claudius's crime. What one may conclude is that Claudius' suspicions are correct as throughout most of the play after the nunnery, Hamlet seems to be relatively sane. Misogyny is the hatred of women. Therefore, if one truly believes Hamlet hates women, one must consider one thing; when did Hamlet start to hate women? Probably the most obvious is that he started hating women after his mother's marriage to Claudius. Hamlet believes that this relationship is nothing short of incestuous and resents his mother for this. So when he sees Ophelia, he starts out by being what some may believe to be ironic or even sarcastic when he first addresses Ophelia ("Nymph, in thy orisons..."). His tone of sarcasm is inflamed when Ophelia addresses Hamlet too formally. Hamlet begins his onslaught by asking Ophelia if she is honest and if she is fair. This is Hamlet basically asking Ophelia if she is chaste as well as beautiful. This is ironic as it has been said that chastity and beauty are incompatible. Indeed Hamlet seems to state that himself which prompts Ophelia to possibly try to move the focus from herself with abstract personification ("could Beauty... with Honesty"). His onslaught reaches new heights when he tells Ophelia to get herself to a nunnery. A 'nunnery' is actually a convent but is also Elizabethan slang for a brothel. ...read more.


Therefore, it could be suggested that he is trying to make Ophelia withdraw from the rest of the world in order to protect her virtue. After the "To be or not to be" soliloquy, Hamlet is in a melancholy mood. But why? There are plenty of possible reasons such as the fact that his father has been murdered and the very person who murdered his father is now married to his mother. This may have lead to him becoming suicidal and as a result he is at a low point. Therefore, metaphorically speaking, a Molotov cocktail has been made and the nunnery scene in which Ophelia seemingly betrays Hamlet is the perfect flame which blows up Hamlets remaining strand of reason whether or not he is feigning madness. This, however, leads to clashing responses from the audience. People believe that Hamlet is mad but some believe that he was not mad but has had his sanity wiped out as a result of the nunnery scene thus commencing his derogatory rant. I think that it is impossible to label the nunnery scene under one theme. I believe that the nunnery scene is based on a cocktail of themes which make the scene like a pinnacle moment in the play. In some cases you can say that misogyny is the most prevalent theme. The end of love has also been touched upon and so it can be said that there are different opinions on what Shakespeare has purposely used the issues from the previous scenes as a way to build up the nunnery scene's sense of explosion, trauma, resentment and treachery. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sean Okundaye English Coursework Mr Cook 3 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Hamlet essays

  1. Mighty opposites; Hamlet and Claudius.

    'O, my offence is rank'. Claudius knows he can't pray because of his sin and guilt but he still puts on the act of prayer. He second guesses God's actions by asking ''May one be pardon'd and retain th'offence? Hamlet sees Claudius praying and even though Hamlet doesn't hear the content of Claudius's prayer he

  2. How successful is Hamlet as a play about revenge? Consider both the modern and ...

    It is true that Hamlet wishes "that the Everlasting had not fixed/His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!" but it should not be forgotten that Hamlet sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths without any guilt; "they did make love to this employment.

  1. An analysis of the soliloquy in Hamlet

    In Act 3 Scene 4 Hamlet uses the same imagery when he is talking to Gertrude persuading her to confess her sins, '...do not spread compost on the weeds to make them ranker'. Hamlet also makes classical allusions, as seen when he uses the simile, 'Like Niobe, all tears,' (line 149); Niobe was the Queen of Thebes.

  2. Compare the opening sections of Kenneth Branagh's and Franco Zeffirelli's film versions of Hamlet.

    Violin music starts as they take their places. The fire is lighting up the characters face's in a spooky way. This is pathetic fallacy as ghost stories are normally told around fires. As Bernardo starts the camera cuts to a view of the night's cloudless sky then back to Bernardo, we can see Marcellus and Horatio behind him their faces are in soft focus.

  1. Select two soliloquies from Hamlet and analyse their significance to the play as a ...

    "My father's brother, but no more like my father Than I to Hercules" By this statement it is meant that Hercules was fathered by Zeus; however he was raised by humans. From this the audience can see that Hamlet is a very strong-willed character, he was very religious and he dearly loved his father.

  2. Hamlet Coursework: Is Hamlet alone responsible for Ophelias death? - WJEC English Lit. ...

    During Ophelia's interaction with Polonious, after Laertes leaves to go to school, we see another possible cause of Ophelias madness. This cause is the controlling, harsh demanor of Polonious, which we see as Ophelia is forced to explain the subject of 'something touching the Lord Hamlet'.

  1. Compare and contrast how Shakespeare and Marlowe explore attitudes to death and the afterlife ...

    Hamlet pities the "poor ghost" who has to experience "sulph'rous and tormenting flames". In Doctor Faustus, hell is viewed negatively: it is described as "ugly hell" with "adders and serpents" coming to plague Faustus and the devil is horrifying, threatening "to tear [him] in pieces".

  2. Explore the Ways the Theme of Death Develops and Changes in Hamlet and Doctor ...

    Hamlet worries that the devil might be attempting to bait him into killing Claudius so that he will go to hell. Hamlet also comments that the afterlife is a place "from whose bourn no traveller returns", Hamlet therefore fears that the devil will take advantage of his grief and despair

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work