Claudius and Polonius step out of their hiding place.
The king states that he does not believe that Hamlet is mad because of his foiled love for Ophelia, or really mad at all, but tormented for some hidden reason.
Insofar as Ophelia is arguably Shakespeare's most recognizable female character, with a long and significant history of "purloining" in both verbal and visual media, she would seem to be an excellent focus for discussions of this kind.
And indeed she is, albeit ironically so, for just as Bronfen's examples of dead women tend to remain distinct—generically categorizable as literary or visual bodies, either/or—so literary analysis rarely seeks to consider the ever-present visual interpretations and popular imaginings of Ophelia's character, and equally in discussing her representations art historians regularly prefer to concentrate on aspects of formal composition rather than explore her origins within the Shakespeare text.
[S]uperintendents of Victorian lunatic asylums were also enthusiasts of Shakespeare. Dancing with Shakespeare: Tom Stroud and Winnepeg's Contemporary Dancers --review/description of an experimental dance production of . [T]he interactive tools that are so central a feature of Web 2.0 encourage the exponential growth of that process of reinvention." 'A Document in Madness': Do Indian Women Mirror Ophelia?
See, in particular, the section on Psychology ("Ophelia as Hysteric") --a 19th century romantic interpretation of the character.
Kaara Peterson In her far-ranging study Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic, Elisabeth Bronfen elucidates Western culture's fascination with depictions of dead, beautiful women in literature and the visual arts respectively, concluding that because such images are so omnipresent we are scarcely aware of their status as a resolute cultural tradition.
Likening portraits of dead women to Poe's famous purloined letter—so numerous as to be invisible to the viewer's eye—Bronfen elaborates the aesthetic association between women and death, quoting Poe's notorious statement, "the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world." Bronfen's study, of course, is part of a general concern these days with the implications of "representation," and her discussion can also be situated in the larger context of current interarts debates about whether traditions in one aesthetic mode affect and should be studied in conjunction with each other, or whether such approaches end up as a kind of ecphrastic iconology, wherein the verbal invariably becomes the interpreter of the visual.At the match, Claudius prepares poisoned wine for Hamlet, which Gertrude unknowingly drinks; as she dies, she accuses Claudius, whom Hamlet kills.Then first Laertes and then Hamlet die, both victims of Laertes's rapier. The play was first published in a quarto in 1603 (Q1) that differs in significant ways from subsequent editions: it is much shorter, the “To be or not to be” speech is in a different place, and many passages appear to be jumbled.When the councilor Polonius learns from his daughter, Ophelia, that Hamlet has visited her in an apparently distracted state, Polonius attributes the prince's condition to lovesickness, and he sets a trap for Hamlet using Ophelia as bait.To confirm Claudius's guilt, Hamlet arranges for a play that mimics the murder; Claudius’s reaction is that of a guilty man. The case study of Ophelia was one that seemed particularly useful as an account of hysteria or mental breakdown in adolescence, a period of sexual instability which the Victorians regarded as risky for women's mental health. The Structure of Shakespearian Revolutions: Witnessing a Paradigm Shift in Pre Raphaelite and Theatrical Portrayals of Hamlets Ophelia--"During the Victorian period and the decades preceding it,. Shakespeare's Heroines: Characteristics of Women, Moral, Poetical and Historical --influential 19th-century interpretation by Mrs. Interdisciplinary Shakespeare: A Multi-media Approach--impact of Shakespeare and the character of Ophelia on the music and life of Hector Berloiz ("The Death of Ophelia," "The Funeral Scene of Hamlet," "Symphony Fantastique," etc.); early productions of viewed through the eyes of earlier French critics and audiences; etc.