Hamlet - Ophelia- "Discuss How the Construction of a Character Communicates the Attitudes and Values in Hamlet."

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Literature Essay- Discuss how the construction of a character communicates the attitudes and values in Hamlet.

The ideas and attitudes towards women have changed very much during the recent times, in fact it is a very modern idea that a woman is free from the control of the men around her; that she is able to make her own decision about where to work, where to live, whom to marry or even to not marry at all. It is only recent that a woman is considered an equal to the males in the community, that women are strong enough to handle the stresses that a man has to go through. The construction of the character Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet reveals that she is nothing like the modern woman, instead her character construction communicates the attitudes and ideas held about women during the time of Hamlet; concepts such as the idea that women were weak or dependable, that they are easily to manipulated, excepted to be manipulated even, and the idea that a woman ultimately needs and at times desperately relies on the men that surround her, to Ophelia those men were mainly her father, her brother and her lover.

Women in the Elizabethan time were not considered as equals; in fact they were thought to be the exact opposite- the weaker of the two genders; mainly because of their uncontrollable emotions; the construction of Ophelia supports this attitude. One example of the weakness of Ophelia is her inability to stand up for herself; when Hamlet tells Ophelia to “Get thee to a nunnery” so as to not hurt anyone else, Ophelia does not stand up for herself, instead once he is gone she goes through a bout of self pity “And I of ladies most deject and wretched,”. The fact that she does not defend herself gives the impression that she is not strong enough to do so- which is probably true. Ophelia is too weak to stand on her own two legs, instead she follows the people around her; however when her father, her primary guider, dies she has no idea what to do with herself...
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