4 May 2018
Character Analysis on Hamlet: Ophelia
In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Hamlet’s father has died. When he returns home for the funeral, Hamlet finds his mother Gertrude has remarried to his uncle Claudius. However, his father’s ghost shows up at the castle. The ghost claims he was murdered and is not at peace. Hamlet is out for revenge. Upon all of this, Hamlet meets Ophelia.
Ophelia’s part in this play is in opinion the maddest. Originally, Shakespeare wrote all of his roles for men. This made the part hard to play. Ophelia was completely sane in the very start of the play and her actions were clear. However, Hamlet eventually drove her completely insane and she later on died.
She was in love with Hamlet even though it was assumed by everyone else that Hamlet would use her. Polonius did not want Ophelia to write back nor answer to Hamlet at all. Since Polonius was indeed her father, she realized that she must obey his commands as his daughter. “No, my good lord, but as you did command I did repel his letters and denied his access to me.” (2.1.109-111) She obeys her father quite well and has decided to ignore all letters from Hamlet himself. By Ophelia being so compliant, she is shown to be a people pleaser and almost submissive towards people and their commands. It is clear that she is quite dependent on how men and only men tell her how to behave.
With Ophelia’s father and brother always telling her what she should and shouldn’t do, it is hard for her to make any choices on her own. “I do not know, my lord, what I should think.” (1.3.104). Ophelia clearly cannot think for herself on what is right and what is wrong of her to feel for Hamlet.
Ophelia only wants to believe Hamlet will always want her. Her father and her brother Larates try to tell her that Hamlet wants nothing but sex with her. However she is slightly naïve. It’s hard for someone to like her to hear the truth or anything that shows contradictory actions to what she believes. Her father and brother told her just to leave him alone and ignore him all at once, but Ophelia believes they’re meant to be. When Larates tried to tell her that Hamlet is basically obligated to the family things, she only says she’ll keep what he says in mind.
When Hamlet stated he did not love Ophelia anymore, this is where she started to lose her mind. It was hard for her to come to terms with not being wanted by him. For when he said “I say we will have no more marriages.”(3.1.136.), Hamlet had then told Ophelia he was done with her. This made her upset because she knew who he used to be. She said he had a mind that was so kind and sweet and that she wished she had never met the old him. Ophelia did not want to know the old Hamlet anymore because she could not bear to see who he had turned into. She is a very faithful woman in many opinions, but Hamlet stated himself that wise men would be cheated on by her. No one knew it yet, but this is where Ophelia would start to lose her mind.
Once Hamlet killed Ophelia’s father, she truly lost her mind. For she could not bear to be without him. She was traumatized to the point she was singing weird and mopey songs to express how she felt about losing her father and Hamlet. What Ophelia failed to notice was that she did not know who she was anymore. Due to her being so comfortable with doing whatever a man asked of her, she was used to being told. However, with those two out of the picture, there was no one there to provide guidance.
When she stared to sing about flowers, it was a sense of foreshadowing. No one knew she was going to die. The way the play is written, it seemed she planned her death to be surrounded by flowers. If readers were to think really hard about how Ophelia died, they would have noticed Gertrude played a role in her death because she did not try to help. Since Ophelia lost her mind, she was completely oblivious to the danger she was in. She did not fight to stop from drowning and instead continued to sing as she was taken in by the water and her velvet dress.
Ophelia’s part in this play is in opinion the maddest. Originally, Shakespeare wrote all of his roles for men. This made the part hard to play. Ophelia was completely sane in the very start of the play and her actions were clear. However, Hamlet eventually drove her completely insane and she later on died. Ophelia was an innocent young woman who let too many men control what she did and how she felt. By being blinded with madness of each death in her life, she wasted her own.
“Hamlet.” Literature for Composition: an Introduction to Literature, by Sylvan Barnet et al., Pearson, 2018.