Watching bits and pieces of Olivier’s Hamlet this afternoon, just like I said I was going to do. I happened upon the “Get thee to a nunnery” scene. As I write this I hear “To be or not to be” in the background so I’m forced to assume that Olivier flipped these scenes?
Anyway, back to Ophelia. This is quite possibly my favorite scene of the play, at least as far as dissecting Hamlet’s madness. I once collected every video interpretation of this scene I could find, to see how differently it has been played. (Unfortunately some of the links in that post have been removed, just so you know.)
What is Hamlet’s relationship to Ophelia at this moment? Is he thinking that she’s turned on him as well? That she’s just a pawn being manipulated by her father? Is he putting on a show for the men behind the curtain, or does he mean what he’s saying? How far do his feelings for his mother at this moment extend toward all women (“Frailty thy name is woman?”) and thus toward Ophelia?
My title comes from the last line of the scene, as Olivier delivers it. Ophelia is on the floor (where he’s thrown her), weeping inconsolably. He leans over, kisses her hair, and says “To a nunnery, go,” and exits. It almost sounds like, “The world is full of horrible horrible people doing horrible things, and you above all others I’d want to protect from that.” That’s most certainly not said for the benefit of Claudius and Polonius, and it doesn’t sound like it’s coming from someone “who loved her not.”