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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Q: Hamlet & Ophelia: Sexual Relations?
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0093.  Saturday, 3 February 1996.

From:           Suzanne Lewis <
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Date:           Friday, 2 Feb 1996 07:39:25 -0700
Subject:        Hamlet & Ophelia:  Sexual Relations?

Friends in Shakespeare,

This afternoon, I learned of a thought-provoking theory shared by two of my
colleagues.  Justine Centanni and Art Garbosky contend that Hamlet and Ophelia
had sexual relations in between Hamlet's slaying of Polonius and his departure
for England.  Ergo, this would explain Ophelia's madness as a response to her
learning that Hamlet killed Polonius.

Mad or not, why would Ophelia repeatedly request of the Queen, "Pray you mark",
asking Gertrude to listen to her songs?  Consider:

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

Then up he rose and donned his clo'es
And dupped the chamber door,
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.

By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do't if they come to't.
By Cock, they are to blame.

Quoth she, "Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed."

He answers:
"So would I 'a' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed."

                        [IV.v.50-57, 60-68]

My colleagues and I wonder, what do you all think?  Are they just songs that
mean nothing, or do you see any evidence that Hamlet and Ophelia made love?
Please offer your thoughts, impressions, and instincts. Also, can you lead us
to published critical analysis to support this theory?  Thanks.

Dramatically,

Suzanne Lewis

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