Characters in Hamlet and Ophelia

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In William Shakespeare's plays, the characters and plot are often categorized as complex and arduous to understand. Ophelia, a minor character in The Tragedy of Hamlet represents one of two women captured in the chaos if revenge. Though Ophelia and Gertrude were placed in the scenery where those they love were avenging their father's death, both handled it differently. Shakespeare's portrayal of Ophelia as an innocent, obedient and naïve child demonstrates the consequence of living under an oppressed society. Ophelia was force to hold back who she was as she play the role of a child.

Ophelia, one of the two women that are apparent throughout the play is the daughter of Polonius and love interest of Prince Hamlet. She represents the archetype of the innocent child as she is controlled by those around her. The role of Ophelia serves as a bridge that links the play together and acts as the "surveillance"1 to the lives of those around her as well. We are able to gain a better understand of the male characters through the actions of Ophelia.

From the beginning of the play, Ophelia have been controlled by her father and brother, which led to her indecisiveness and reliance upon others. The men in her life try to control her actions, directing her to make decisions that they agree upon. Polonius, her father, directs by telling her, "In few, Ophelia,/ Do not believe his vows. For they are brokers/… As to give words or talk with Lord Hamlet. Look to ‘t. I charge you. Come your ways." 2 He doesn't wish to see Ophelia with Hamlet and try to persuade her that Hamlet was lying to her, and her heart would be scattered by him. Being controlled by a superior authority, Ophelia, like many women during that time, have no other response but to obey. In the same scene in Hamlet(1948), Lawrence Olivier portrayed Ophelia's as submissive to Polonius' authority and doesn't argue back with him. Even as an audience, we could see the eye movement and gesture of her hands...
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