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Analysis of Ophelia's Character in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

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In the English play Hamlet, Shakespeare incorporates deep analytical thought in his writing by the use of character, symbolism, and motifs. Specifically, readers can find these characteristics through analytical reading of the character Ophelia. While initially reading the story, Ophelia represents a character that is typical of the women in the 1600s, one who is too submissive and directed by the people around her. First impressions of Ophelia's character seem much too simplistic- one that is emotionally governed and trivial, in a sense. However, when her words are analyzed along with her motives and state of mind, it appears that there is a greater sense of understanding, an underlying motive that is directed and well thought out by her words. Deeper insight into her character reveals that Ophelia not only has her own opinion, but may possess a larger capacity for independent thought than the people she surrounds herself by. In fact, it isn't her lack of intelligence and understanding that leads to her ultimate demise, but instead, it is her lack of action to certain circumstances. This type of behavior can be symbolic of Shakespeare's views on English politics. It seems that a lack of action within the populace can lead to utter ruin in the state. A passiveness and lack of defense, as Ophelia characterizes, is also symbolic of the eventual downfall that is likely to occur if these characteristics are expressed in society. In addition to being a direct contrast of Hamlet, analysis of Ophelia as a character leads to the fact that she is intelligent in her understanding, but her lack of action is to blame for her eventual insanity and untimely death, which is characteristic of the society in England.
In this play, one of the m...


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...to be feared than loved. Fear has the power to capture a person, to make them do whatever is necessary to escape the emotion, arguably more than the power of love. Polonius is applying this tactic to Ophelia, in order for her to stop seeing Hamlet. In addition to applying governmental tactics to gain control of his daughter, Polonius creates an atmosphere where Ophelia is unknowing to the ways of the world, and must use paternal guidance in making life decisions. [You speak like a green girl, unsifted in such perilous circumstance] and [Marry, I will teach you…] are both statements that will make Polonius seem like a proactive parent. He is targeting both the Ophelia's supposed lack of knowledge as well as his ability to be the influential leader in a situation. However, Polonius may be mistaking the fact that Ophelia may actually be competent in these matters.



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