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The Character of Ophelia

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The Character of Ophelia

In Shakespeare’s tragedies, the characters all have flaws that eventually lead to

their undoing. In the play Hamlet, the character of Ophelia is ultimately killed by her flaw.

It is apparent that Ophelia is an obedient person but, upon closer inspection, the audience

can see that she is not merely obedient. Ophelia’s thoughts and actions go beyond

obedience to show that she is a weak and entirely dependent character. Nothing that she

says or does is a representation of herself but mostly that of her father.

Ophelia’s cruel actions towards Hamlet, which go against her feelings for him,

demonstrate her obedience to her father. In the beginning of the play, Ophelia tells her

father that she likes Hamlet but her later actions sacrifice these personal feelings under the

order of her father. She does as her father says regardless of how it could affect her own

life. In particular, Ophelia agrees not to see Hamlet anymore after the request from her

father: “I shall obey, my lord...”(act 1, scene 4). Ophelia’s actions show that Polonius has

complete control over her because she sacrifices her personal feelings to please him.

Ophelia’s obedience goes deeper than her trying to please her father and shows

what a weak character she is. When Hamlet harasses her and tells her to go to a nunnery

where she can no longer harm anyone, she does not try to defend herself. Instead, she just

feels sorry for herself. Ophelia could not su...
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