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Tear Jerker / Hamlet

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  • The ending of Hamlet.
    Hamlet: The rest is silence.
  • Horatio's attempt to drink the poisoned wine. Suicide would have ensured that he would never get to enter heaven, but he'd rather die and be damned to hell forever than live one day without Hamlet. It's even sadder when Hamlet stops him.
  • Hamlet's opening monologue, especially the last line - "break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue".
  • The real context of the "what a piece of work is man" line - What Hamlet's really saying is that he's so depressed, no matter how lovely the world is, he cannot appreciate it.
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  • One version played Hamlet as The Stoic around all others; even the scene with Gertrude was done in an almost blank, totally unnerving near-monotone. Then when Horatio goes for the goblet, Hamlet gets hold of it and says "As thou'rt a man, give me the cup." Horatio does not. Hamlet's control wavers as he demands "Let go!" and yet Horatio fights for the poisoned chalice. The next sentence is startlingly anguished, so much so that Horatio releases the cup on reflex and Hamlet flings it away, proceeding to give his last sets of lines with an overwhelming emotion that seems to have been bottled up throughout the entire play. It could easily have gone over-the-top, but somehow it worked.
  • The scene when Insane!Ophelia comes wandering onstage, right as the newly-returned Laertes is flipping out at Claudius about his father Polonius' death. So his father's been murdered, and now his sister has lost it. A couple scenes later, he learns that she's drowned.
    • In one production, Ophelia had a heartbreakingly plaintive voice—and there was an extra dimension added to the scene by the fact that the guy who played Laertes was really her brother.
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    • In the Kenneth Branagh version, if your heart hasn't already been broken after Ophelia's finished singing 'And will a not come again', it's going to shatter when you see her calmly get up and walk back into her padded cell... and just stand there, staring at the wall.
    • When Ophelia hands out (what she thinks are) flowers, babbling about their meanings, what, exactly, she's handing out varies from production to production. Some have her giving out actual flowers, while others have her giving out useless bits of grass and leaves, while still others have her giving out random objects; one production at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2016 had her ripping out chunks of her hair. The 2019 production at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater had her come onstage carrying a torn, bloodstained curtain, ripping pieces of fabric off of it and handing those out. Yes... the very curtain her father was stabbed through. Poor girl... A Korean comic had her handing out different household objects – such as scissors for her and Gertrude's rues –, which is Played for Laughs but somewhat even more tearjerking, in that she's mad enough to pretend objects that look nothing like plants are plants.
  • The 2008 RSC version is even worse about this— rather than an epic, tragic moment, the end is filmed very intimately between Hamlet and Horatio. After Hamlet's death, Horatio, in tears, delivers his famous line, kisses him on the forehead, and gently rocks his body. And that's where they end it.
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    • Also in that version, the mad Ophelia just looks so pathetic, all bloody and dirty, in only a slip, dwarfed by armfuls of plants- and then you realize she isn't even holding the herbs she's talking about. Not only is she insane enough to be handing out herbs, she's insane enough to pretend that random bulrushes are different herbs.
  • The closet scene with Gertrude, especially when Hamlet presents her with the pictures of his dead father and his uncle and shouts at her for breaking her vows to his father.
  • Another interpretation-based tearjerker moment: If it is true that Hamlet purposefully pushes Ophelia away to protect her from the madness he intends to create, then one can only imagine the hell he puts himself through when he rages against her.
    • Taken further after when she commits suicide, and he realizes he has failed. The resulting anger against Laertes, as well as his attitude throughout the remainder of the play, shows just how important Ophelia was to him.
    • Fridge Brilliance: In Shakespeare's time, as well as in many other modern religions, suicide resulted in a seat in Hell. So did Murder. Perhaps Ophelia's suicide was all Hamlet needed to finally go through with his revenge, as it would allow him to be with his beloved despite the fact that the two would end up in Hell.
    • Let's not forget that Ophelia is the one character in the play who is 100% innocent, yet she is manipulated by Claudius and her own father, shoved away and persecuted by her supposed beloved, and abandoned by her brother (though not by his own intentions), not to mention having her father murdered by her beloved, all in the midst of an impending attack by the nation's enemy. For all her resolve, she eventually cracks. Her final scene is a complete heartbreaker, seeing her regress to an innocent, child-like demeanor rather than turn into a manipulative jerk or blind-rage asshole (or both, in Hamlet's case), like most other characters in the play aside from Horatio and Fortinbras, and maybe Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, depending on whether or not you believe in Tom Stoppard's follow-up play (there is some speculation that even Gertrude is manipulating emotions, though it is probably more out of guilt than greed).
    • When the time comes for her to be buried, the gravediggers callously discuss the fact that she's only getting a Christian burial at all because of her noble rank, and when Laertes almost begs for her to be buried with full ceremony, the priest tells him that if Claudius hadn't intervened she would have been buried in unsanctified ground, and deserves to have pebbles and shards thrown on her rather than flowers. Even at the time the play was written Ophelia's demise is a tragedy, but in modern times when people who commit suicide are rightly far more pitied, it's terrible to see Ophelia dismissed as the worst of sinners.
  • Sian Brooke's Ophelia (2015 National Theatre production) just sounds so devastated as Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet raged at her in the "nunnery" scene.
  • The scene with Yorick. Hamlet just found the skull of one of friends who died a long time ago bring so much joy to Hamlet, but now he's dead.
    "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?"

  • In SKE48's production, there's a duet shared between Hamlet and Ophelia. It's starts off slow and somewhat melancholic, but after Hamlet lashes out at Ophelia, she cries out to God to return Hamlet to his former self. The second half of the song is more intense, Ophelia is now frightened by what he has become, and towards the end, you see Hamlet reach out to Ophelia, but stops himself and runs out of the room, leaving her crying over how much he's changed. (Video here)
    • During the end of the opening number, too, as everyone leaves the stage, there's a moment where Hamlet lets go of Ophelia's hand, with a heartbroken look on his face.
    • After Polonius' death, Gertrude, Horatio, and later on in the scene Claudius, go to see Ophelia. She starts singing about how both her beloved and her father are gone (everyone joining in with her for the second half of the song), but asks Claudius not to mention her father is dead as she doesn't even want to accept that her father is truly gone.
  • In the Takarazuka Revue production, Ophelia sings most of her mad scene in a childish voice, on a disturbingly dissonant melody, right up until the "And will he not come again" line. The melody then becomes solemn and sad. Ophelia (played by Ranno Hana) looks straight at the camera, seemingly much more lucid than she had been throughout the scene, and returns to a normal voice. As this is her last time onstage note , this implies that she is Dying As Herself and Driven to Suicide.
    • Even Claudius seems genuinely distraught (mostly) that Ophelia has finally broken.

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