Top-Rated Free Essay
Preview

Ophelia's Death

Good Essays
917 Words
Grammar
Grammar
Plagiarism
Plagiarism
Writing
Writing
Score
Score
Ophelia's Death
In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia is bombarded by pressures from all around her. Because of her role as a female, Ophelia must succumb to the orders given to her by those around her. As a result, Ophelia must take orders and any aftermath that may come from it. As a result, Ophelia is pushed to death by her obedience, abuse from Hamlet, and her spiral into madness. From the beginning of the play, it is clear that Ophelia plays the role of an obedient daughter and sister to her family. Before Laertes leaves, he warns Ophelia, “Fear it Ophelia, fear it my dear sister,/ And keep you in the rear of your affection,/ Out of the shot and danger of desire” (I.iii.33-35). Laertes tells Ophelia both as a warning and as a command to beware of Hamlet. Once Laertes exits, Polonius tells Ophelia that, “From this time/ Be something scanter of your maiden presence” (I.iii.120-121). He tells her this because he is a royal and she is not, so the two could not possibly be together. Polonius tells her this not only as fatherly advice but also as orders to not see Lord Hamlet anymore. He then reiterates this to the king and queen when he says, “And then I prescripts gave her,/ That she should lock herself from his resort,/ Admit no messengers, receive no tokens” (II.ii.140-142). Polonius has stated that he has ordered Ophelia to not see or speak to Hamlet. Ophelia is merely being obedient to her father's wishes, so she has no say as to her relationship with Hamlet. Towards the end of the play, Gertrude states that Ophelia has died, “But long it could not be/ Till that her garments, heavy with drink,/ Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay/ To muddy death” (IV.vii.180-183). It seems that Ophelia did not have a choice when she drowned, for even the water pulled her down to her death. Ophelia's lack of choosing her own destiny played a part in her death. Ophelia is directly affected by the men around her, especially her loved ones, including Hamlet. However, in Act III, Hamlet verbally abuses Ophelia when he tells her to, “Get thee to a nunnery – why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners” (III.i.119-120). He addresses her as a harlot and says that she gives birth to sinners. Ophelia, because of her obedient ways, can not say anything back to Hamlet, so she just takes it. When he revokes his love for her, Ophelia merely says, “I was the more deceived” (III.i.118). Hamlet proceeds to tell Ophelia, “...marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them” (III.i.134-135). He also tells Ophelia to get herself to a nunnery two more times before he exits, brandishing her as an adulteress. After Hamlet leaves, Ophelia is alone and exclaims, “And I of ladies most deject and wretched” (III.i.149). She is in a miserable state, her father has given her orders to not to speak to Hamlet, and he has now rejected her. It is clear to others that Hamlet never truly loved Ophelia when the king states, “Love? His affections do not that way tend” (III.i.156). The abuse is clear and it hurts. Unlike Hamlet, Ophelia does not feign her madness. Her madness stems from the death of her father and the misleading love of Hamlet. She crazily sings of both death and love. She enters singing, “How should I your true love know/ From another one” (IV.v.23-24). She is heartbroken by the fact that Hamlet never truly loved her and sings of true love. She then proceeds to sing of her father who, “...is dead and gone lady,/ He is dead and gone;/ At his head a grass-green turf,/ At his heels a stone” (IV.v.29-32). The image that Ophelia sings of her father in the ground with a tombstone is shocking to many. She continues to sing of young men and betrayed love, “Young men will do't if they come to't –/ By Cock, they are to blame./ Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me,/ You promised me to wed.'/ He answers –/ So would I ha' done, by yonder sun, and thou hast not come to my bed” (IV.v.60-66). She sings of a promise of marriage and the question of Ophelia's relationship is put into question. After her singing she addresses the royal court and says, “...but I cannot choose but weep to think they would lay him i'th' cold ground” (IV.v.68-69). Ophelia speaks of death before she exits and it is clear that she is grieving her father. The king points out that her insanity may stem from her father's death when he says, “Oh this is the poison of deep grief, it springs/ All from her father's death, [and now behold–]” (IV.v.74-75). When Ophelia returns, she speaks of her father again after giving flowers, “I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died” (IV.v.179-181). Her madness and her miserable state have made Ophelia's mind unclear. Because of Ophelia's obedience, abuse from Hamlet, and her descent to madness, she is ultimately greeted at death's door. What sets Ophelia apart is that it is the actions of those around her that directly affect her state of mind. Eventually, it is these actions that ultimately lead to her watery grave.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Ophelia, a fictional character in Hamlet, is the daughter of Polonius and young lover to the main character. Her father, the right hand of the king, originally requests she keep her distance from Hamlet. Quite soon, the company of Hamlet believes he has gone mad. Polonius, of course, asks his obedient daughter to spy on her lover. Mary Salter stated, “She certainly has a great deal of respect for her father and unquestioningly obeys his instructions…” Ophelia and Hamlet spend an extravagant amount of time together. In the time of Shakespeare, this was nearly unacceptable. One could understandably be under the impression they…

    • 632 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Ophelia In Hamlet

    • 1399 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Although Hamlet continued to pursue her as a lover, he eventually discovered that her loyalties did not lie with him, as she became a spy for Claudius and Polonius. It is unclear as to whether or not Hamlet is aware that Ophelia is being used by the men, but he is reassured of her loyalty to them when he asks, “Where’s your father?” and Ophelia replies, “At home, my lord” (3.1, 130-131). Ophelia’s social position as a woman in society is virtually nonexistent as the presences of manipulative men merely use her obedience as a means of improving their social positions, with little regard for hers. In accordance with the time period, Ophelia would have followed codes of conduct “influenced by religious literature, the attitude taken by most writers of deportment manuals reflect the theologians’ traditional dislike and distrust of women” (Kincaid 103). While there is no indication that Ophelia has broken any codes, Hamlet takes out his frustration with his mother on her, and chastises her for shortcomings as a woman when he says, “Let me think on’t. Frailty thy name is woman!” (1.2, 146). Regardless of Ophelia’s proper social behavior, Hamlet reveals that she cannot escape her fate as a woman. Hamlet tells her, “If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery” (3.1, 135-37). Even if Ophelia follows every social norm and remains chaste, she will always be restricted by society because of the men that define…

    • 1399 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Though Ophelia should see nothing but innocence and love she sees only the poison circling around the court. When her father, Polonius finds out about Hamlet and quickly starts to pull Ophelia in two different directions. She is told that she may not spend anymore time with Hamlet, that “If with too credent ear you list hs songs / Or lose your heart or chaste treasure open” (1.3.33-34). Her family is worried that Ophelia is so innocent and naїve that she will lose her virginity to Hamlet out of wedlock and therefore lose her status a noblewoman. After hearing this Ophelia protests, “And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord / With almost all the holy vows in heaven” (1.3.124-124). She truly…

    • 561 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Theme Of Power In Hamlet

    • 1053 Words
    • 5 Pages

    When looked at through a feminist perspective, the two women in the story have little to no control or power over their situations. Ophelia is consistently told what to do and how to act by her father, Polonius. Ophelia even obeys his demands when he orders her to reject Hamlet’s letters. In another instance, she aids her father in spying on Hamlet although she cares deeply for him. For each and every decision that Ophelia must make in her life, she looks towards men, whether it be Polonius, Laertes, or Hamlet, because she believes that she is incapable of making her own decisions. Overall, Ophelia is used as a tool by the men in her life, specifically her father, so that they can gain insight, and therefore power in Denmark’s government. Ophelia also drives parts of the plot as when her father dies (because Hamlet killed him), she decides to commit suicide, which sparks a fire for vengeance in her brother,…

    • 1053 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Ophelias Madness

    • 978 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet was one that was very hard to understand. She was in love with him and that complicated things. The character of Ophelia was the daughter of the King’s Advisor. She was not royalty or even remotely from a royal lineage. Hamlet, on the other hand, was a prince. He was the prince in line for the throne. Ophelia was in love with Hamlet and the only chance she had was to conspire with him and earn his trust. Hamlet discovered that his father had been murdered by his uncle. His uncle, Claudius, then became the king. Hamlet pretended to be crazy in order to expose his uncle. Ophelia found out that this was what was happening and went along with it in order to convince her father, Polonius, that Claudius had murdered the king. Polonius was, after all, the king’s advisor. Speaking of Hamlet, she says in Act 2 Scene 1, “He took me by the wrist, and held me hard” (1546). She knew, by telling her father that Hamlet had gone crazy and grabbed her, that he would relay it to the queen and her new king.…

    • 978 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    Ophelia is also a character who has an important role in the play as she is a figure of symbols in the play. Ophelia delivers the symbolism of innocence but also of sexuality. Ophelia has a connection to flowers and in specifically to violets. The Violet's in the play signify death which ties Ophelia to the theme of the play as well. Ophelia faces a dilemma, choosing to be obedient to her father or choosing to love Hamlet after her father and brother advised her Hamlet only wants to use her. This was also a motive that guided her to madness and after her father's death it completely transposed her and contrived her delusional which eventually lead to her death which she accepts. The play signifies that everyone dies and it is fundamentally a part of life. Ophelia also represented the theme of betrayal as Hamlet tested her to see if she was loyal to the king or to Hamlet. After their discussion about Ophelia becoming out of love with Hamlet, Hamlet began to develop mistrust for…

    • 1392 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    It shows that Ophelia lacks in her own independence of thought and who continually accepts the thoughts of male figures in her life. From the very beginning of the play, Ophelia is compliant to her fathers will. This is represented through Ophelia’s response to her father when she says 'I did repel his letters, and denied his access to me' (Act II, scene I) were Ophelia complies with her father’s orders. Ophelia’s response to her father suggests that Ophelia lacks her own independence and who is under the authority of her father. Ophelia’s actions show how willingly she is able to sacrifice her feelings for Hamlet under the order of her father and that she will give up her happiness in order to please and obey her father. Throughout the play, Ophelia continuously portrays her obedience to her father. In particular, Ophelia decides that she will no longer insist on seeing Hamlet anymore after the request from her father with her response, ‘I shall obey, my lord’ (Act I scene III.) The actions of Ophelia show that Polonius is in control over her as she sacrifices her feelings for Hamlet to satisfy her father.…

    • 494 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ophelia was a modern day good girl gone bad. She obeyed her father, Polonius, and brother, Laertes’ wishes to stay away from Prince Hamlet while trying to fight for her love for Hamlet and being herself. Throughout the entire play Ophelia is used as pawn in a game of revenge between Hamlet, Polonius, and King Claudius. Polonius and Laertes forbid Ophelia from seeing Hamlet because they believe that he is only using her for sex, yet Polonius uses her to seek information from Hamlet as though she were his personal spy. Although Hamlet loves Ophelia and genuinely cares for her, he sees the danger he and the royal court pose on her. Hamlet wants to get her away from the corruption while putting on an act for King Claudius to prove that he is really mad, and in that attempt, acts as though Ophelia means nothing to him. He treats her in the same manner he treats his mother and all women for that matter. Hamlet sees all women as ignorant and deceitful. Despite Ophelia’s ability to see through Hamlet’s charade, there is still a sense of pain in the words he speaks to her. “Get thee to a nunnery, go. Farewell...To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell.” (Act 3.1) This had to have been the largest insult to Ophelia ever spoken, but was not meant in that…

    • 582 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ophelia Character Analysis

    • 1631 Words
    • 7 Pages

    The dismissive behaviour of Polonius and Laertes dehumanizes Ophelia and keeps her separated from the decision making “adults”. In one instance, Polonius instructs her to “think [herself] a baby”. In her interactions with these characters, Ophelia’s opinion is not asked for or valued she is largely cast aside or used as a tool. In Ophelia’s first appearance she is constantly reminded by Polonius and Laertes of the “danger of desire”, Laertes advises her that he “best safety lies in fear”. (Act I, Scene III). It is made clear early on that Ophelia is being taught to fear relationships, leading to long term isolation. These repressed emotions may relate to her fixation on desire during her madness. Polonius also dismisses Ophelia’s opinions on Hamlet’s behaviour saying, ”Affection? Pooh! you speak like a green girl”. Throughout all of Ophelia’s interactions with her father she maintains formal titles and language, referring to Polonius as “my lord”. By submitting to the perception of her inferiority Ophelia alienates herself from others. Even before her becoming insane, Ophelia is marginalized and removed from others, a the true outsider within…

    • 1631 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    revailing wisdom is that one of two things is at work here: Either an inconsistency in Shakespeare's writing, which is not uncommon — his other works are fraught with them, though Hamlet far less than most. Or Shakespeare decided to up the ante on Hamlet's guilt. Gertrude could have not known the whole truth when she reported to Laertes and Claudius. She might have been trying to spare Laertes or to diffuse another tantrum on his part. The placement of the priest's admonition supports the suicide pretty solidly. So why did Ophelia do it?…

    • 171 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    It is plausible to say that Gertrude likes taking control of her son’s life. She tells Hamlet to stop acting like a child and orders him to get over the tragedy of his father’s death. Since Gertrude is constantly controlling her son, it is likely that she is biased to the love affair between Hamlet and Ophelia. As an overprotective mother, and current queen of Denmark at the time, it is possible that she disapproves of Ophelia simply because she is not of royal blood. As the plot of the play progresses, Ophelia eventually becomes deranged. A mother would disapprove of someone who is unstable to be…

    • 1982 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    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…

    • 1277 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ophelia's Weakness

    • 669 Words
    • 3 Pages

    In the beginning of the play, it is clear through her thoughts and actions that that Ophelia is an obedient person. But upon closer inspection, the audience can see that she is not merely an obedient, but completely dependent and weak character. In fact, her needy nature is unmistakable from the beginning. OPH: "I do not know, my lord, what I should think." POL: "Marry, I will teach you. Think yourself a baby…" (Act I, Scene III, lines 105-106) Her cruel clashings with Hamlet, which go against her feelings for him, demonstrate her absolute obedience to her father. For example, from the start Ophelia told her father that she is fond of Hamlet: "My lord, he hath importuned me with love / In honorable fashion." (Act I, Scene IV, lines 111-112) In relating this to Polonius, she implies that Hamlet is a decent and honorable man, and that she does have feelings for him. Ophelia's later actions sacrifice these personal feelings by order of her father, proving her total submission to his authority. Ophelia specifically agrees with her father not to see Hamlet again: "I shall obey, my lord…" (Act I, Scene IV, line 136) This shows that Polonius has complete control over his daughter, with her desire to please her father as the direct cause. Ophelia has an innate desire to please others, even if it means forfeiting her own feelings, and her obedience apparently springs from this. However, I wonder if Ophelia's drastic actions stem from something other than obedience-- such as her character. Her compliance seems to go deeper than her trying to please her father, and her thoughts and actions show what a weak character she really is. For instance, when Hamlet bullies her and tells her to retreat to a nunnery where she could no…

    • 669 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ophelia's Death-Suicide?

    • 693 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Hamlet is considered to be one of the greatest plays of all time, written by William Shakespeare. One of the subplots of the play is Hamlet’s love for Ophelia, the daughter of one of the King’s top advisors. Their relationship is a little rocky as the play progresses. Hamlet is actually away from Denmark when Ophelia dies. Ophelia’s father had recently been killed by Hamlet in a terrible accident, and she has now gone mad, singing nonsense songs and giving people flowers that she has picked from the garden. The cause of Ophelia’s death has been debated over the years. Did she commit suicide because she was mad, or was her death an accident? Although Ophelia was not entirely sane, details of how she drowned show that her death was an accident.…

    • 693 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    After Hamlet killed her father, Ophelia started doing absolutely bizarre things, such as singing church hymns constantly. One song that she sings is on page 109, “Ophelia. And will ‘a not come again?/ And will ‘a not come again?/ No, no, he is dead,/ Go to thy deathbed,/ He never will come again./ His beard was as white as snow,/ All flaxen was his poll./ He is gone, he is gone,/ And we cast away moan./ God ‘a’ mercy on his soul!/ And of all Christian souls, I pray God. Goodbye you.” Ophelia eventually transitions from singing hymns to really letting herself go and basically committing suicide. Her death greatly affected Hamlet emotionally and psychologically. Hamlet loved her more than anyone believed. On page 128 he says, “Hamlet: I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers/ Could not with all their quantity of love/ Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?” Her death was the terminal factor that led Hamlet to his inevitable…

    • 489 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays