The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis


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Through Ophelia we witness Hamlet's evolution, or de-evolution into a man convinced that all women are whores; that the women who seem most pure are inside black with corruption and sexual desire. And if women are harlots, then they must have their procurers. Gertrude has been made a whore by Claudius, and Ophelia has been made a whore by her father.

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Hamlet is not in the room but it seems obvious from the following lines that he has overheard Polonius trying to use his daughter's charms to suit his underhanded purposes. In Hamlet's distraught mind, there is no gray area: Polonius prostitutes his daughter. And Hamlet tells Polonius so to his face, labeling him a "fishmonger" despite the fact that Polonius cannot decipher the meaning behind Hamlet's words. Gertrude chose a brother over a dead Hamlet; Ophelia chooses a father over a living Hamlet: both choices can be read as additionally sexually perverse in being, to Hamlet, 'incestuous' Stanton, New Essays on Hamlet To the rest of us, Ophelia represents something very different.

To outside observers, Ophelia is the epitome of goodness. Like Gertrude, young Ophelia is childlike and naive.

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Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Ophelia Character Analysis Essay

But unlike Queen Gertrude, Ophelia has good reason to be unaware of the harsh realities of life. She is very young, and has lost her mother, possibly at birth. Her father, Polonius, and brother, Laertes, love Ophelia tremendously, and have taken great pains to shelter her.


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She is not involved with matters of state; she spends her days engaged in needlepoint and flower gathering. She returns the love shown to her by Polonius and Laertes tenfold, and couples it with complete and unwavering loyalty. Even though her love for Hamlet is strong, she obeys her father when he tells her not to see Hamlet again or accept any letters that Hamlet writes.

Her heart is pure, and when she does do something dishonest, such as tell Hamlet that her father has gone home when he is really behind the curtain, it is out of genuine fear. Ophelia clings to the memory of Hamlet treating her with respect and tenderness, and she defends him and loves him to the very end despite his brutality. She is incapable of defending herself, but through her timid responses we see clearly her intense suffering: Hamlet I did love you once. Ophelia : Indeed, my, lord, you made me believe so. Hamlet : You should not have believed me I loved you not.

Hamlet: Ophelia | Character Analysis | CliffsNotes

Ophelia : I was the more deceived. Her frailty and innocence work against her as she cannot cope with the unfolding of one traumatic event after another. Ophelia's darling Hamlet causes all her emotional pain throughout the play, and when his hate is responsible for her father's death, she has endured all that she is capable of enduring and goes insane. But even in her insanity she symbolizes, to everyone but Hamlet, incorruption and virtue.

The Character of Ophelia Essay

Hamlet was written in the late 16th Century about the Prince of Denmark. The original title of the work was The Tragedy of Hamlet, now it is referred to as just Hamlet. In Hamlet, William Shakespeare uses the mental state of his characters to prove that not all characters in books.

Instead of changing through the course of the play, she remains suffering in the misfortunes perpetrated upon her. She falls into insanity and dies a tragic death. Ophelia has issues surviving without a male influence, and her downfall is when all the men in her life abandon her. In Elizabethan times, Ophelia is restricted as a woman. She is obedient to the commands of the men in her life although she often attempts to do the right thing. Polonius, Laertes, and Hamlet all have a grasp on Ophelia and who she is.

She does not have the freedom to change her fate as Hamlet does. Hamlet knows that she is helping her dad, Polonius, spy on him. Hamlet orders Ophelia to a nunnery, but she cannot call him out on it because she is not supposed to know what the word means. This is not the only criticism that Hamlet calls out to Ophelia.

He says that if Ophelia is to marry a man, she will turn her husband into a monster because she will cheat on him Shmoop Editorial Team 1.

Hamlet - Characters

Get thee to a nunnery, farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too.


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  • Ophelia Character Analysis?

Since Ophelia has no woman influence in her life, Polonius is left as the dominant role in her life Brown 1. She is an obedient daughter and abides by the rules her father gives her with no protest. Show More. Read More. Popular Essays.

The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis
The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis
The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis
The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis
The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis
The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis
The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis The Characters of Hamlet: Ophelia Character Analysis

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