Ophelia Character Analysis

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Ophelia is a young woman who is the daughter of Polonius and the sister of Laertes. In the play, Ophelia is caught between her obedience to her father and her love for Hamlet, which results in tragic consequences. As a character who perfectly represents the “good girl” schema, Ophelia is the quintessential obedient daughter, a role demanded of all young women in the early 17th century. Her obedient nature can be seen in repeated quotes such as – “I shall obey my Lord,” as she complies with her father’s orders to quit seeing Hamlet. Essentially, Ophelia has no control over her body, relationships, or choices as she is constantly used and ordered around by her father merely for his own benefits. “Ophelia, walk you here.—(to CLAUDIUS) Gracious, so please you, we will bestow ourselves. (to OPHELIA)—Read on this book that show of such an exercise may color you loneliness.” (Act 3, Scene 1) is a simple example of how easily Ophelia is controlled by the men around her and the passage serves as also an indirect characterization quote to reveal her flaw of being a static and one-dimensional character as she fails to change herself. Ophelia’s filial obedience also leaves her vulnerable to the abuse of Hamlet, who once loved her wholeheartedly. Hamlet accuses her of being unfaithful and deceptive as he seems to know that Ophelia is a participant in her father’s eavesdropping. He accuses all women, including Ophelia, that they are “breeder[s] of sinners” and even orders Ophelia to a “nunnery.” “And I, of ladies most deject and wretched, that sucked the honey of his music vows now see that noble and most sovereign reason[…] out of tune and harsh,” (Act 3, Scene 4) shows how devastated she is at hamlet’s harsh behavior, the man who once spoke to her with sweet words. The passage serves as an indirect characterization quote to portray an insecure side of herself as she finds her emotions easily influenced by those around her.

Eventually, like Hamlet, Ophelia cracks under...
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