Theme Of Ophelia

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In the tragedy Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Ophelia encounters a destruction of her sanity by the end of the play due to the pain experienced as a result of the desertion and actions from those she loves. Ophelia embodies an idealistic female of the 19th century, subservient to the men in her life, a vision of grace and virtue, and essentially no voice in society at all. However, her perfect demeanor weakens and she ultimately transitions from sane to insane. She starts off in a healthy state of mind, but her sanity begins to diminish as the men in her life continuously control her every action and desert her. Ophelia must listen to her father and not her heart, causing Hamlet to reject her and verbally abuse her numerous times during the…show more content…
Her first abandonment comes from her brother, Laertes, whom she cares for immensely. Before leaving for France, Laertes says to Ophelia, “My necessaries are embarked. Farewell. And sister, as the winds give benefit and convey is assistant, do not sleep, But let me hear from you” (Shakespeare 1.3.1-4). The close relationship that exists between brother and sister is recognizable here, as Laertes says his farewell to Ophelia and shows concern for her well being while he travels. Ophelia now loses her closest confidant and as those closest to her diminish, she begins to draw closer to becoming completely alone. Another important relationship ends between her and Hamlet, pushing Ophelia even closer into loneliness and growing closer to insanity. After Polonius demands that she ceases all contact with Hamlet, Ophelia possesses even more reason for her fall to insanity due to her forbidden love. Polonius instructs Ophelia, “I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth have you so slander any moment leisure as to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to ‘t, I charge you. Come your ways” (Shakespeare 1.4.141-144). Since Ophelia must obey her fathers demand, she emotionally detaches herself…show more content…
Ophelia cannot take control of her own life because her father dominates her, therefore provoking her insanity since she is unable to voice her own opinions. Polonius uses Ophelia as bait to spy on Hamlet and orders “ Ophelia, walk you here…Read on this book that show of such an exercise may color your loneliness. —We are oft to blame in this, 'tis too much proved, that with devotion’s visage and pious action we do sugar o 'er the devil himself” (Shakespeare 3.1.48-55). Again, Ophelia’s father enforces her every move, not allowing her to make her own decisions. She must blindly obey her father’s commands and betray someone she holds dear. Spending her whole life subservient to others eventually leads to Ophelia’s insanity. She holds no sense of self-knowledge since she has never been allowed to form her own ideas and grow as a person. In H.D.F. Kitto’s work Corruptions Effect on Love, he states “Ophelia’s tragedy is that she is innocently obedient to a disastrous father” (Kitto 103). The consequences of her blind obedience to her father result in Hamlet’s mistrust in her. She unintentionally betrays someone she cares for because of her fathers influence. Therefore, starting to disconnect from herself, Ophelia begins to immerse into madness. Ophelia also sustains verbal abuse numerous times from Hamlet, which notably affects her
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