Hey There Ophelia

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Erika Congdon
June 18th, 2009
Hallberg 3
Hey There Ophelia
In Hamlet, Ophelia is portrayed a tragic heroine, pure but ultimately doomed. She is cursed to follow a course, which will end in her demise due to the complexity of the fragile human psyche. Ophelia’s psyche is compartmentalized into three major subdivisions: the Ego, the Superego and the Id. These three sections of her psyche can be best analyzed in the famous “Nunnery scene” from Shakespeare’s everlasting play Hamlet. In this scene Ophelia suffers from a critical mental overload that triggers a chain of cataclysmic events that robs her of not only of her innocence, but also her sanity.

To apply a psychological lens to the “Nunnery scene”, we must first understand how a psychological lens works. A psychological lens works with psychology. It looks either at the psychological motivations of the characters or of the authors themselves, and generally the former is considered a more respectable approach. Frequently, psychological critics apply Freudian psychology to works, but there are other approaches such as a Jungian lens. We, however, will focus on a Freudian lens. When taking a Freudian approach to critical analysis, one often pinpoints the influences of a character's id. The id is representative of the pleasure seeking, instinctual part of the mind. The superego represents the quadrant of the mind, which represses the id's impulses, and often reflects one’s parental influences. The ego is referred to as the quadrant of the mind that controls but does not contain the impulses of the id, allowing them to be released in a productive but not damaging manner. Freudian lenses often draw attention to the sexual implications of symbols and imagery; this is because Freud believed that all human behavior is motivated by sexuality. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the “Nunnery scene” is a turning point for Ophelia in the play. It is Ophelia’s initial confrontation with her former lover, Hamlet,...
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