Hamlet And Ophelia Essay Research Paper The

Hamlet And Ophelia Essay, Research Paper

The character Ophelia in William Shakespeare?s play Hamlet plays a very

interesting and important role in the elaboration of the plot. In the beginning,

she starts off in a healthy state of mind, in love with her boyfriend Hamlet,

yet controlled by her father in regard to their relationship. During the play

she encounters several troubling experiences involving Hamlet which cause her to

become distressed. Near the end, the death of her father leaves Ophelia mentally

unstable and in a state of madness that eventually leads her to death. So, due

to all of the unfortunate events that took place with the people she loved the

most in her life, Ophelia gradually becomes mad, and in the end passes away.

Ophelia?s and Hamlet?s love for each other in the beginning was very real.

Following the death of his father Hamlet falls in love with her, and is much

attracted by her beauty. It is not uncertain, however, that Ophelia is very much

controlled by her father. She is the daughter of Polonius, the chief advisor to

the new King Claudius, and a highly respected man. Her father demands that she

tell Hamlet at once that she can no longer be with him and tells her "I

would not, in plain terms, from this time forth have you so slander any moment

leisure as to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to?t, I charge

you. Come your ways." (I.iii.132-35). It is clear that here Polonius is

making decisions for his daughter, regardless if she really loves Hamlet or not.

She feels very unimportant and helpless now, and because of this develops a lack

of emotional confidence and strength. All she can reply is "I do not, my

lord, what I should think." (I.iii.104). She is used to relying on her

father?s direction and has been brought up to be very obedient. As well, her

brother Laertes agrees with what their father is saying. He also tells Ophelia

that Hamlet is no good for her "Perhaps he loves you not" (I.iii.16).

He thinks that Hamlet only loves her because he wants to seduce her, and demands

his sister to never see him again. Ophelia can only accept her father and

brother?s beliefs and writes Hamlet a letter which informs him that she can no

longer see him. As a result, she begins to feel alone with very little

independence. At this point in the play Ophelia?s emotions are what help

contribute to her madness. There are a few other incidents in the play which

help in the course of Ophelia?s madness. When Hamlet receives the letter from

Ophelia he is affected terribly by her words. The next time she sees Hamlet she

is surprised and even a bit frightened by his behavior. He did not look like he

usually does, and he acted very strange towards her. He held her by the wrists

and stared deeply into her face, long and hard, then storms out, leaving her

intensely troubled and saddened. After that she tells her father, and he

believes that Ophelia?s love is what made him mad. "That hath made him

mad" (II. i.110). Polonius then goes to tell the King and Queen of

Hamlet?s strange behavior and plans to spy on Hamlet to prove he?s gone mad.

Ophelia now is left feeling guilty. When she sees Hamlet later on she tries to

speak with him, but is rejected coldly. He does not listen to her and screams

harsh words leaving her feeling worthless and embarrassed. "?I loved you

not." (III.i.119). "Get thee to a nunnery." (III.i.121) "?

you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nickname God?s creatures, and make you

wantonnes your ignorance. Go to, I?ll no more on?t;" (III.i.146-48)

This incident causes Ophelia to become slightly disturbed. She sits weeping

while her father and the King practically step on her weak body to find out more

reason for Hamlet?s actions. In this depressed state all she can say is

"O! woe is me, to have seen what I have seen, what I see!"

(III.i.163-64) So, because of Hamlet?s rudeness and rejection through this

part of the play, Ophelia is driven even more closer to insanity. Perhaps the

biggest cause of Ophelia?s madness was the death of her father. The news of

Polonius? death was just enough to throw her over the edge of insanity.

What?s worse, she finds out that her dearest father was murdered by the one

she loves, Hamlet. Ophelia now goes completely mad and has lost all control over

her mind. She begins singing songs to herself that don?t really make sense to

anyone. "He is dead and gone, lady, he is dead and gone?"

(IV.V.29-30). The King now feels pity for her because she has lost so much,

"O! this is the poison of deep grief; it springs all from her father?s

death." (IV.V.75-6). It becomes clear now, when she sings the song about a

maid on St. Valentine?s day, that the way Hamlet treated her was a great

contribution to her insanity. In this song she says "Quoth she, before you

tumbled me, you promis?d me to wed" (IV.V.62-3) You can tell by the words

she sings that she is upset because Hamlet slept with her during their

relationship and had promised her they?d get married. These are now the final

stages of Ophelia?s madness. When Laertes comes to visit he is greatly

confused by his sister?s behavior. She does not talk to him now as herself,

she sings and speaks of rosemary?s and pansies which are invisible to everyone

else. She says goodbye to her brother for the last time, leaving him filled with

rage and grief. A short while after, Ophelia is found dead in a river, having

drown that afternoon. Some believe her death was suicide and some assume that it

was an accident. Unlike the other characters in the play, Ophelia died from

loving too much, being too innocent, and too pure. She died because of her

virtues, while others perished because of their faults. She did nothing wrong,

but so many wrongs were dealt to her. Therefore, it was these factors,

especially the loss of her father, which caused her to become mad. Ophelia?s

madness progresses throughout the play as she comes across more and more

unfortunate incidents. She starts off happy with Hamlet by her side, but due to

the fact that her life was under so much control by her father she lost him. The

occurrences after their breakup were even more unsettling to Ophelia because of

the unpleasant way Hamlet treated her. The death of her father is more than she

can bare, and she ends up going completely insane. Ophelia?s madness and the

events that lead her to it are key parts in the plot in Shakespeare?s play,




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