The Characterization of Ophelia in "Hamlet"
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This paper provides a detailed analysis of Ophelia in key moments throughout the play "Hamlet", in order to see how her relationships with other characters, namely, Polonius and Gertrude, serve to repress her psychological development such that she is unable to effectively cope with the loss of Polonius. The paper explains that Polonius instructs Ophelia to consider herself an infant at the very beginning of the play, and this attitude ultimately is what renders her unable to cope with Polonius' death, and, this is reinforced by Gertrude, who only considers Ophelia in terms of physical beauty, and who sees no use for her as anything other than an object for Hamlet to obtain. The paper shows how Shakespeare uses the character of Ophelia to point out the catastrophic effects of misogyny and gender stereotypes and the social roles they reinforce.
From the Paper:"When the roles of daughter and lover come into mortal conflict following Hamlet's murder of Polonius, she is unable to deal with the resultant trauma, having never been given the opportunity to develop an independent personality and psyche beyond those imposed upon her by her social roles. This is not to suggest that Shakespeare is engaging in any kind of misogynistic stereotypes of frailty or hysteria in his characterization of Ophelia, but rather that he is using Ophelia's descent into madness and death as a means of pointing out the destructive nature of these stereotypes and the social roles they prescribe for individuals. With this in mind, it is now possible to begin an analysis of Ophelia in key moments throughout the play, in order to see how her relationships with other characters (namely, Polonius and Gertrude) serve to repress her psychological development such that she is unable to effectively cope with the loss of Polonius.
"Immediately upon her introduction into the play, Ophelia's forced subservience to other characters is demonstrated, because nearly the entirety of her first scene is spent being lectured by her brother and father to stay away from Hamlet. Reading their entreaties now makes them seem almost quaint, as Laertes begs his sister to "weigh what loss your honor may sustain, / If with too credent ear you list his songs, / Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open / To his unmaster'd importunity" (Hamlet 1.3.30-32)."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Hunt, Maurice. "Impregnating Ophelia."Neophilologus. 89.4 (2005): 641-663. Print.
- Peterson, Karaa. "Framing Ophelia: Representation and the pictorial tradition." Mosaic : a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature. 31.3 (1998): 1-24. Print.
- Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Shakespeare Navigator. 2011. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://www.shakespeare-navigators.com/hamlet/index.html>.
Cite this Analytical Essay:
The Characterization of Ophelia in "Hamlet" (2013, June 06) Retrieved September 22, 2023, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/the-characterization-of-ophelia-in-hamlet-153499/
"The Characterization of Ophelia in "Hamlet"" 06 June 2013. Web. 22 September. 2023. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/the-characterization-of-ophelia-in-hamlet-153499/>