The eighteenth-century British novelist Laurence Sterne wrote, ¡°No body, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man¡¯s mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time.¡± In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Ophelia¡¯s mind is pulled in conflicting directions between compelling desires, obligations, and influences. Ophelia is torn between her father along with her brother, and Hamlet. Ophelia¡¯s father and brother both caution her to Hamlet¡¯s advances and advise her to stay away. As Ophelia sees her brother away, Laertes warns Ophelia about the integrity of Hamlet¡¯s love. He says he might love her now, but she must keep in mind his status as prince and be wary of their relationship. Because he is heir to the throne, his hand in marriage may be compromised as an act of politics between two nations. As his sister, she promises to keep his words in mind. Laertes advises Ophelia to keep the relationship casual and not to taint her virgin youth. Soon after, Ophelia¡¯s father also warns her against Hamlet. Polonius notices that Ophelia and Hamlet have been spending private time together and she admits to the ¡°tenders of affections¡± made to her. Polonius berates her of her foolishness and calls her a ¡°green¡± girl. Ophelia defends Hamlet¡¯s love as honorable, although she admits, ¡°I do not know, my lord, what I should think.¡± Polonius commands Ophelia to not trust Hamlet and to deny herself from him. Ophelia¡¯s is in a confused and distressed state. The two most important people in her life have just controlled her to go against her true feelings. They are both very significant people to her, her brother whom she is close with and trusts dearly, and her father who is also a figure with high status. Already Ophelia feels conflict between herself, her loving brother, and the orders of her father.
Hamlet at this point in the story is already...
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