Opheli A Patriarchal Society Essay

Opheli A Patriarchal Society Essay

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Ophelia has limited opportunities as a woman in a patriarchal society and this is what separates her from Hamlet, who has the freedom to change his own fate. Ophelia needs to be obedient and is not allowed to express herself and her true feelings. What happens in her life is determined by the whims of the men who control her. She is obedient to her father and brother and also to the king, and although she tries to do what is right, she is often pulled along by these men. Unlike Hamlet, who can act according to his own will and speak his mind as he wants, Ophelia must find an alternative to express herself. The only out that she sees is in hysteria and eventually death. As a mad woman, Ophelia would not be bound by the societal restrictions of women. She could voice herself. However, even in madness, she is not free. Even though she is able to have a voice, she still has no freedom of choice and she is ultimately regarded as nonsensical and her words are taken to be mad-talk. Ophelia does not have the power to change her own fate and her death is tragic because the only escape she sees from her oppression is madness and death. Thus, her limited options in a patriarchal society and her realization of those limitations are what make Ophelia 's death the true tragedy of Hamlet. Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet experiences the complete reversal of fortune and, when realizing the powerlessness she’s had all of her life, loses all sanity and her life.
As a woman in a society dominated by men, Ophelia has few choices in life. While unmarried, she would have to obey her father, Polonius, and once married, she would have to obey her husband. She obediently does as her father tells her without complaint, even if what he commands ...


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...y mad she would not be able to understand the deeper meaning of giving someone these flowers.
Ophelia understands that it is her madness that allows her to freely express herself, yet she also realizes that she has few options left for herself. Polonius is dead, Hamlet is insane and has abandoned her, and Laertes is dedicated solely on revenge. Ophelia has nowhere to turn and everyone believes she has gone mad. Although Ophelia may not have actively committed suicide, when she accidentally falls into the water, she accepts it. Gertrude explains that Ophelia fell into the water, at “Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds, / As on incapable of her own distress” (5.1.176-77). Even though she is not capable of making a choice of whether or not save herself, she is at peace. She accepts the fact that she is unable to act without someone to tell her what to do.

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