There is some scholarly debate about Ophelia"s words in act 4, scene 5—she is suffering a mental breakdvery own, so need to we search for interpretation in what she is saying or dismiss out on it as random ravings? However, this certain line definitely seems to echo the template of uncertainty that pervades the play. Both Ophelia and also Hamlet are acutely conscious of, and tormented by, their present selves yet are anxious around the substantial and also unknowable potentials of their futures. This uncomfortable uncertainty drives Ophelia to madness and also Hamlet to procrastinate his pursuit for revenge.
You are watching: We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
Publish Page Citation Share Link
Hover for more indevelopment.
Who are the experts?Our certified Educators are real professors, teachers, and also scholars that usage their academic expertise to tackle your toughest concerns. Educators go with a rigorous application procedure, and eextremely answer they submit is reviewed by our in-residence editorial team.
B.A. from University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Educator because 2014
| Certified Educator
One should understand that Ophelia, at this allude, is experiencing a mentalbreakdown. She has actually been perplexed by Hamlet"s ambiguous words and actions and has been admonimelted by both her father and also brvarious other about pursuing relations via him. To crown it all, she has actually simply learned that ...
Unlock This Answer Now
Start your 48-hour totally free trial to unlock this answer and also thousands more. Enjoy nlinux.org ad-free and cancel anytime.
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Already a member? Log in below.
One must understand that Ophelia, at this allude, is suffering a mental breakdown. She has actually been puzzled by Hamlet"s ambiguous words and also actions and also has actually been admonimelted by both her father and brother around pursuing relations with him. To crown it all, she has actually just learned that Hamlet has actually eliminated her father. All this trauma is enough to make also the the majority of stable of people crack.
The question is: Does Ophelia say these words in a minute of brilliant intellectual enlightenment or are these simply the ramblings of a mind gone astray? Whatever it may be, Ophelia is making a great allude. Her statement is an exact assessment of our being, our essence. We live in the present. What we recognize is what we recognize now and we respond to that; but, we execute not recognize what we may become. We might guess or make assumptions around our futures or just how we may respond to a case, but we cannot be quite sure.
Ophelia, for instance, knew that she had affection for Hamlet and that she was loyal to her father, however she did not understand that Hamlet would certainly mess around with her so a lot, confutilizing her -- telling her in one minute to "acquire thee to a nunnery" and in the following requesting to sit at her feet. She neither kbrand-new the extent of her father"s meddling or that he would certainly be eliminated by Hamlet. Finally, not discovering, she can hardly conlayout exactly how she would react. It is specific that she never thought that she would certainly lose her sanity, or later commit suicide.
It is this uncertainty which is a significant design template of the play. Hamlet knows that he is: the son of a murdered king, rightful heir to the Danish throne. Furthermore, he knows what he suspects -- that his uncle had murdered his father and also unlawtotally usurped the throne, and also that his mother may have actually been complicit in the murder. Hamlet also knows that he has to avenge his father"s fatality, however he likewise knows that he is not a ruthmuch less killer. After listening to his father"s ghost, Hamlet sees his duty as a curse:
O cursed spite,That ever I was born to set it right!
It is all this that sets Hamlet on the road of doubt and procrastination. He knows what he is, however is unparticular about what he may come to be.
See more: Harry Potter Black And White Images (21), Harry Potter Black And White Pictures
He rationalizes, considers and also reconsiders. His intellectual perturbation does not allow him to act and his uncertainty is best expressed in his deep and also moving soliloquy:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:Whether "tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and also arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,And by opposing end them? ...
It would certainly be fair to say that, at this suggest, Hamlet does not also seem sure of what he is and is most likely even more hesitant around what he might be. Poor Hamlet! If he had only recognized that his uncertainty would certainly ultimately result in the tragic demise of so many type of, consisting of him!