Having exposed his two old schoolfriends as spies serving the king and queen (“Were you not sent for? … Come, come, deal justly with me”, 2.2), Hamlet naturally reacts with suspicion on suddenly encountering the woman who for two months has shunned his company.
Is it only obedience to her father that motivates Ophelia to collude in the “’twere by accident” (3.1) scheme to “sift” (2.2) Hamlet? Or, by encouraging the prince to recall his past love for her (“words of so sweet breath composed”, 3.1), does she also hope to rekindle it?
The prince responds with an abusive and self-contradictory rant—against women, men and himself (“I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious”, 3.1). And in his “it hath made me mad” rage he blurts out his murderous intention regarding the eavesdropping king: “Those that are married already, all but one, shall live.”
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