Hamlet: "Get thee to a nunnery."

Hamlet: "Get thee to a nunnery."

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Following Hamlet's iconic ''To be or not to be...'' soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 1, Ophelia enters the room, tasked by Polonius to return Hamlet's tokens of love. This simple act triggers Hamlet's anger, and he spirals into a rage, blaming Ophelia for his unhappiness and accusing women of turning men into monsters. He denies ever having loved her, commanding her to ''get thee to a nunnery'' to avoid becoming a ''breeder of sinners.''

Left humiliated and alone after Hamlet's outburst, Ophelia reflects on the encounter, beginning her famous soliloquy, ''O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!'' Despite bearing the brunt of Hamlet's cruelty, her first thoughts are of him. She wonders how someone she once loved and respected could descend into madness. Reflecting on her own role, she acknowledges that she was charmed by Hamlet's sweet words of love, lamenting, ''suck’d the honey of his music vows.'' Though saddened by the encounter, she ultimately takes pity on Hamlet, exclaiming, ''O woe is me!''

In this scene, Shakespeare continues to reveal the hidden depths of Hamlet's mental state through Ophelia's perspective. In her soliloquy, Ophelia paints a vivid picture of Hamlet's transformation from a kind and rational person to someone ''jangled out of tune and harsh.'' Despite her own suffering, Ophelia's intelligence and strength shine through. She engages in a battle of wits with Hamlet, matching his intelligence effortlessly. Ophelia emerges as a strong and intelligent woman caught in a tragic circumstance, far from the meek victim she might easily be perceived as.

In John Haidar's production with the Bristol Old Vic, Hamlet is portrayed as a modern-day angsty teen, dressed in black and ready to be set off into a rage by the slightest comment. In this scene, actors Billy Howle (Under the Banner of Heaven, The Serpent) and Mirren Mack ( Mary and George, The Doll Factory) capture the tense relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet.

Cast & Crew

(Director), Mirren Mack (Ophelia), (Writer), Billy Howle (Hamlet)

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