Gertrude Speech On Ophelia's Death

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Gertrude’s Speech on Ophelia’s Death Analysis This passage is from Act 4, scene 7, lines 163-183 of Hamlet. Laertes, hearing of his father’s death, storms the palace seeking revenge. Claudius, in an effort to calm Laertes’ rage, conspires with him on how to effectively kill Hamlet shortly before Gertrude interrupts with the news of poor Ophelia’s death. Laertes, heartbroken after hearing that his sister has died, seeks to mourn in peace, but Claudius insists that he and Gertrude follow him so that he can keep an eye on his temper. This passage highlights how man’s incessant need for power and retribution leads him to neglect the weak, ultimately leading to their downfall. Gertrude paces the news of Ophelia’s death in a slow and even measure,…show more content…
Her use of scenic imagery helps to contrast Ophelia’s actions with the beauty around her while also distracting the reader from the somber events taking place. The “willow [that] grows askaunt the brook,/ That shows his hoary leaves in the glassy stream” portrays an almost dream-like reality, tinting everything with a touch of fantasy while minimizing the harsh pain of the real world (166-167). The willows drooping branches creates an image of demure sadness and, paired with the glassy stream, helps to create the physical embodiment of Ophelia’s sorrow. Gertrude’s use of excessive detail and imagery depicts Ophelia in a positive light despite her madness. This continues as Gertrude describes the flowers Ophelia picked for the “fantastic garlands” she made for her father’s funeral (168). The “crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples” are all very important because they are coded in flower language (169). Crow-flowers symbolize childishness and indicate the loss of Ophelia’s mature mind. The nettles represent Ophelia’s pain over losing her father, Polonius, and her lover, Hamlet. Daisies represent Ophelia’s innocence or purity (their white
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