Father-Child Relationships in Hamlet and Fences

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Father-Child Relationships in Hamlet and Fences
In both William Shakespeare's Hamlet and August Wilson's Fences, the emphasis placed on parent-child relationship is vital, as family plays an important role in developing a character's values as well as his or her upbringing does. While Ophelia, Laertes, and Hamlet show loyalty to their fathers unconditionally, Cory, even though looks up Troy as a figure, eventually exhibits disrespect to him.

The relationship that Ophelia shares with her father, Polonius, is rather dogmatic to say the least. Throughout Hamlet, Polonius demonstrates almost absolute control over Ophelia as if she were a tool with the sole purpose of serving Polonius. As a result of a weakness of mind caused by a lack of independent thought, Ophelia does not oppose Polonius; for instance when Polonius challenges Hamlet’s intentions with Ophelia, she can only say “I do not know, my lord, what I should think.” (I.iii). Ophelia allows herself to be controlled, even rebuffing her love for Hamlet simply because Polonius suggests her not to “give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet,” (I. iv) which illustrates the importance Ophelia place on her familial obligations. The structure and guidance that Polonius provides for Ophelia, leads her to affirm that she “shall obey” him (I. iv). Ophelia is subservient to her father's wishes and looks up to his patriarchal position. She listens to Polonius' counsel. She places her father (and family) above other affairs. Polonius seems to be dominant and almost controlling. However, Ophelia is never rebellious.

While Ophelia shows her faithfulness to her father dependently, Laertes consciously respect his father. Though they may not have the best relationship before Polonius is murdered, it was clear that Laertes feels it to be essential that he proves his love for his father after his father has passed. The question is, does Laertes always have a passion for his father, and if not, why does he feel that he has...
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