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Hamlet 4.5

Ophelia has actually gone mad with the news that Hamlet has killed her father. Her songs seem to suggest some meaning to what she’s feeling, but “God dild you. They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are but know not what we may be. God be at your table” (lines 47-49) lack any clarity.

Claudius regrets burying Polonius quickly, without ceremony, for it has bred conspiracy theories that feed a secretly-returned Laertes, who, presently, storms Elsinore with a rebellious mob.

As the King and Queen explain to a bloodthirsty Laertes how Polonius was slain, Ophelia enters to give everyone flowers and herbs from a basket. Laertes is griefstricken, and his desire for revenge is deepened.

Claudius tells Laertes to gather his advisers as judges: he will explain everything, and if it is not clear and honest, Claudius will hand over the throne.


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