Ophelia is introduced to the audience as naïve young girl hopelessly submerged in affection for her beloved Hamlet, the son of the former king. She is the daughter of the current king’s most trust advisor, Polonius. Ophelia’s first plank of madness is laid with the departure of her brother for France. This early “loss” of a loved one is similar in many ways that Hamlet’s father is also gone. However both Laertes and Hamlet Sr. inevitably return.
Ophelia is a crutch to Hamlet, a living symbolic representation of Hamlet’s emotions much in the same way that ancient Greek stories used a chorus. Ophelia is the one woman chorus of Hamlet (the play and character both), a fact which makes her one of the most elementally affluent of Shakespeare’s characters in a literary sense. In his play, Hamlet, William Shakespeare uses his character Ophelia’s descent into madness as a parallel guiding complement to the main character’s own insanity; a form of “railroad track” for the train wreck that is Hamlet. Ophelia: “O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown! The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword, The expectancy and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion and the mould of form, The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!” (55) Ophelia is distraught to the state to which Hamlet has become. She decries upon him that he, as the prince, was the role model for all of Denmark, someone to look up. The fact that that person has in her mind gone psycho, obsessed with a mad revenge whose carrier she cannot love, destroys her. Her collapse because of an idol she once cherished is a mirror reflection of the dependency of Hamlet upon Ophelia herself, as well as his own idealistic worship of his father in a similar manner. Ophelia and Hamlet’s love for each other represents the solid elasticity that holds all of the other characters and all of Denmark together. When this love starts to wither, so does situation. They are together a double edged sword, with...
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