Shakespeare's Hamlet Compared To Ophelia

Satisfactory Essays
Melancholy, grief, and madness have enlarged the works of a great many playwrights,

and Shakespeare is not an exception. The mechanical regularities of such emotional

maladies as they are presented within Hamlet, not only allow his audience to sympathize

with the tragic prince Hamlet, but to provide the very complexities necessary in

understanding the tragedy of his, ironically similar, lady Ophelia as well. It is the poor

Ophelia who suffers at her lover's discretion because of decisions she was obligated to

make. Hamlet provides his own self-torture and does fall victim to depression and grief,

however, his madness is fictitious.

They each share a common

connection: the loss of a parental figure. Hamlet loses his father as a result of a horrible

murder, as does Ophelia. Her situation is more severe because it is her lover who

murders her father and all of her hopes for her future as well. Ultimately, it is also more

harmful to her character and causes her melancholy and grief to quickly turn to madness.

Critics argue that Hamlet has the first reason to be hurt by Ophelia because she follows

her father's wishes regarding Hamlet's true intentions for their beginning love. In Act 3,

Hamlet begins with his spiteful sarcasm toward her. "I humbly thank you, well, well,

well," he says to her regarding her initial bantering. (III, i, 101) Before this scene, he has

learned that the King and Polonius have established a plan to make reason of his unusual

and grief-stricken behavior. Hamlet is well aware that this plan merely uses Ophelia as a

tool, and as such, she does not have much option of refusing without angering her father

and the conniving King as well. Hamlet readily refuses that he cared for her. He tells her

and all of his uninvited listeners, "No, not I, I never gave you aught" (III, i, 105). Some

critics stress, as does J. Dover Wilson, that Hamlet has a right to direct his anger to

Ophelia because even though many critics "in their sympathy with Ophelia have

forgotten that it is not Hamlet who has 'repelled' her, but she him" (Wilson 159). But it is

possible that Wilson does not see the possible harm to Ophelia if she were to disobey the

authority of her father and the king.(i.e. her father and her king). She is undeniably

caught in a trap that has been laid
, in part, by her lover whom she loves and idealizes.

Her shock is genuine when Hamlet demands "get thee to a nunnery" (III, i, 131).
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