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How Does Shakespeare Present Ophelia

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How Does Shakespeare Present Ophelia
Shakespeare’s Ophelia is a complex character in her own right. She is controlled by her male relatives and isn’t set free truly till madness sets in. She is loved like a daughter by Queen Gertrude, first loved and then abused by Hamlet and above all used as a bargaining tool by Laertes and Polonius. In Shakespeare’s time the way her father and others treated her wouldn’t have been uncommon and the shock would have come from her bawdy behaviour when she went mad whereas a modern audience would be more shocked and disgusted at the poor treatment she is given by her family and Hamlet.

Ophelia as she is initially presented is the dutiful and attentive daughter of Polonius and sister of Laertes. We see she respects and cares for the opinions of her father and brother, we see this when they are giving her advice in regard to her relationship with Hamlet. “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart.” Though following this speech we can also see the differences between the relationships of Ophelia and her father and Ophelia and Laertes. With Laertes we can see a certain degree of repartee between the two with a line such as, “While like a puffed and reckless libertine himself the primrose path of dalliance treads and recks not his own rede.” Whereas after receiving similar advice from her father she merely says, “I shall obey my lord.” This could be due to the fact that Polonius uses a lot less tactful language than Laertes, “Affection? Pooh, you speak like a green girl unsifted in such perilous circumstance.” This could be due to Polonius consistently treating his daughter as an object or bargaining tool and persistently speaks in monetary terms to her with his overuse of the word “Tenders” and phrases such as “set your entreatments at a higher rate,” “which their investments show,” “tenders for true pay which are not sterling.” These are Polonius possibly unwittingly showing us how he sees his daughter. He’s more worried as to how

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