William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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William Shakespeare's longest play, Hamlet, is his ultimate masterpiece and is filled with symbolic importance concerning gender relationships. Part of the tragedy revolves around Hamlet and his relationship with Ophelia, and her relation with the other men in this play. Elaine Showalter states that “she appears in only five of the play's twenty scenes,” which provides little detail on her profile. In order for Ophelia’s death to be tragic, she must experience anagnorisis—the point in the plot, especially of a tragedy, at which the protagonist recognizes his or her, or some other character's true identity and discovers the true nature of his or her own situation (Anagorisis). Ophelia, in her madness, eventually does take this into account and because she lacks alternatives, she accepts death. Dr. Annette Wyandotte quotes, “One could argue that Ophelia’s death is the true tragedy of Hamlet.” There is enough evidence provided for the reader to understand Ophelia, her struggle, madness, and her tragedy.
As a woman, Ophelia has limited options in a patriarchal society dominated by men and can be interpreted as a representative of the majority of women of the Renaissance era: second-class citizen in a man’s world. This separates her and Hamlet, who is capable of changing his fate. A woman’s status in Shakespeare's day, and much earlier, was notable. Very few were allowed property rights, a voice in government, education, or careers (Wyandotte). Ophelia’s role in the play is established early. In Act I, Scene III, her brother, Laertes, advises her to stay cautious of Hamlet, telling her, “keep you in the rear of your affection, Out of the shot and danger of desire” (1.3 Line 34-35). She is capable of objecting her brother's advice, but ...

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...r family and by Hamlet, and in the end, her brother leaves, Hamlet abandoned her, and her father was killed, and she lost everyone.

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