Hamlet Essay

Submitted By ashleeey2
Words: 812
Pages: 4

Hamlet Essay Ophelia’s role in William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet is quite confusing. Throughout the play, Ophelia is portrayed as gentle, loyal and obedient, but hides in the background like a supporting actress. She is intended to be Hamlet’s love interest, yet he doesn’t include her in any of his life-changing plans. Ophelia has no major qualities, yet her life and death have an incredible influence on most characters, especially Hamlet. Throughout the entirety of the play, Ophelia is reluctant to defend herself. This is typical for a female character in Shakespearean time. During Shakespeare’s time, a woman is said to be completely dependent and obedient to her father, and further on to her husband. Ophelia fits this script perfectly. She is the perfect daughter who, without argument, obeys her father entirely. In the quote, “I shall obey, my Lord” (I.III.136) Ophelia is referring to her father as her Lord when asked to reject Hamlet. As ironic as it seems, Ophelia’s perfection is her one of her biggest downfalls. Ophelia is used by the man she respects most, her father or her “Lord,” to spy on hamlet. Her spying on Hamlet brings nothing but more of a deepened despair which contributes to her death. Polonius continues to use Ophelia as his puppet throughout the play. He persuades Ophelia to have a meeting with Hamlet, which soon becomes a turning point in the play. In this meeting, Hamlet reveals his feelings, although complicated, to Ophelia as well as how deeply he feels betrayed by her. When Ophelia tries to return Hamlets gifts, he goes into a fury of anger and disgust, telling Ophelia to “get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners” (III.I.121-122). As important things are revealed in this scene, the audience begins to realize that Ophelia is much more significant character than originally portrayed. Suddenly she is not only used as a tool for Shakespeare, but also for Hamlet and Polonius. Ophelia’s character was also used as a tool by Shakespeare to foreshadow future events. In her first appearance, her brother, Laertes, and her father, Polonius, warn her to stop seeing Hamlet because, according to them, he only wants her virginity and would never marry her. This warning from her family is insight to her future conflict with Hamlet, which continues to a life of madness and death. In act II, Ophelia describes a short meeting with Hamlet to her father, telling him that he was starting to look and act like that of a crazy man. One possible interpretation of this scene is that Hamlet is using Ophelia to “put [his] antic disposition on” (I.V.172). No matter Shakespeare’s intention, this can be seen as foreshadowing of the madness to come throughout the rest of the play. Even in her madness and death Ophelia remains a significant character in this play. During her crazy ramblings, we as readers have an opportunity to compare Shakespeare's definitions of true and false insanity. This comparison can give confirmation or doubt on the interpretation of Hamlet's questionable crazy behavior throughout the play.
Ophelia's death has an obvious significance. Upon her death, Hamlet is reminded of how