Notes on Ophelia throughout Hamlet.


The presentation of Ophelia from Hamlet

  • Ophelia isn't introduced until Act One, Scene Three; in which Ophelia and her brother, Laertes, are bidding farewell before he leaves to go abroad. Her first line in the play is 'Do you doubt that?', showing a somewhat reluctance to abide by the Society in which the play is set in, since she's speaking for herself and questioning things.
  • Between Laertes and Ophelia, the prospect of a relationship for Ophelia and Hamlet is dismissed by her brother - who claims that 'perhaps he loves you now'. 
  • Once Laertes leaves and Ophelia is then alone with her father, Polonius, there is a shift in the dynamic and relationship between them in comparison to Ophelia and her brother. Polonius demands to know the situation between Ophelia and Hamlet - "What is it between you? Give me up the truth." This indicates Polonius's lack of trust in his daughter.
  • Polonius, too, is very scornful of Hamlet's affections. "Affection, pooh! You speak like a green girl -" During this scene, Ophelia is shown to be extremely submissive to her Father - although there is an indication that she is reluctant to abide by him: "I do not know, my Lord".
  • Ophelia is described in this scene by critic Shawna Maki: "Even if she does not want to comply with the rules, when her father gave the order, she obeyed."

Act Two, Scene One:

  • Ophelia arrives during the middle of the scene after the Laertes' situation had already been discussed, which could be implying an Anti-Feminist impression from the time since she will always be second best in comparison to a man.
  • There is a repitition of the phrase, "My Lord", portraying Ophelia's obvious submissive nature towards her Father.
  • By describing Hamlet using the words "piteous", "Lord Hamlet" and "profound", Ophelia is showing a clear indication to the reader that she still genuinely cares for the well-being of Hamlet, regardless of how badly he has treated her.
  • In Ophelia's description of the events, she states that Hamlet "held me hard" - which could be a implication of her lack of control and freedom in the Society in which Ophelia is from. This is supported when Ophelia then goes on to say "he lets me go", showing that at all times, the man is in control of the situation. 
  • There is also foreshadowing in her description of the events "a little shaking of mine arm" - which could be hinting at her future madness.
  • Her Father's quickness to seek higher authority for help - "I will go seek the King" (line 98) - shows that everyone is reluctant to properly deal with their problems individually, instead going to people with more power than them. This is previously shown when the two Guards go straight to Horatio, and then Hamlet to deal with the arrival of the Ghost.
  • There is also an emphasis


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