Hamlet’s Gentle Ophelia

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Hamlet’s Gentle Ophelia William Shakespeare created a gentle little creature in the character of Ophelia in the tragedy Hamlet. Her strange misfortunes, as well as other circumstances, make her life an interesting one to explore in this essay. Ward and Trent in The Cambridge History of English and American Literature maintain that Ophelia is interesting in herself, aside from her relationship with the hero: Of Ophelia, and Polonius, and the queen and all the rest, not to mention Hamlet himself (in whose soul it would be absurd to attempt to discover new points here), after this we need not say anything. But it is observable that they are not, as in the case of Coriolanus, interesting merely or mainly for their connection with the hero, but in themselves. (vol.5, pt.1, ch.8, sec.16, no.55) Helena Faucit (Lady Martin) in On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters reveals the misunderstood character of Ophelia: My views of Shakespeare's women have been wont to take their shape in the living portraiture of the stage, and not in words. I have, in imagination, lived their lives from the very beginning to the end; and Ophelia, as I have pictured her to myself, is so unlike what I hear and read about her, and have seen represented on the stage, that I can scarcely hope to make any one think of her as I do. It hurts me to hear her spoken of, as she often is, as a weak creature, wanting in truthfulness, in purpose, in force of character, and only interesting when she loses the little wits she had. And yet who can wonder that a character so delicately outlined, and shaded in with touches so fine, should be often gravely misunderstood? (186) Ophelia enters the play with her ... ... middle of paper ... ...s 6.1 (May, 2000): 2.1-24 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/06-1/lehmhaml.htm>. Pennington, Michael. “Ophelia: Madness Her Only Safe Haven.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. of “Hamlet”: A User’s Guide. New York: Limelight Editions, 1996. Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint of Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos. Ward & Trent, et al. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907–21; New York: Bartleby.com, 2000 http://www.bartleby.com/215/0816.html
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