Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

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Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Shakespeare's Hamlet is a tale of mortal revenge, lost souls, love and infidelity, and murder in the royal family. Hamlet, his father having recently died, is mourning the marriage of his mother to his uncle. When his father's ghost appears to him and tells him he must avenge the former king's spirit so that it may pass on to Heaven, he decides to put on an "antic disposition" so that no one will know what he is thinking. As time goes by, he cannot move himself to act upon his revenge and is tormented by his indecisiveness and ineptitude. Among all of this, what is the role of Ophelia, the young maiden, and daughter of the King's advisor, Hamlet's former sweetheart? She seems to appear out of nowhere and the play could have easily functioned as well without her. Or could it? Ophelia brings a depth to the play that no other character could bring. She serves as a character foil for Hamlet and Gertrude, supports the themes of the play, as well as serving as the sympathetic and/or tragic character, giving the play greater emotion.
When Hamlet devises his plan for revenge, he takes on an "antic disposition" to elude any suspicion of what he is doing. However, as the play continues Hamlet never fully realizes his goal because of procrastination and indecision. He is slow to act because of all the confusion, grief, and melancholy in his head. Ophelia and her brother Laertes serve as foils for Hamlet because they do almost exactly the opposite that he does when faced with the same predicaments as he.
Hamlet murders Laertes and Ophelia's father, Polonius while in a passion. Laertes challenges Hamlet to a duel the first chance that he gets to restore his family's honor. This is in stark cont...

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...300 Critical Evaluations of selected Novels and Plays. Salem Press. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 1976.

Nelson-Cave, Wendy. Who's Who in Shakespeare. Book Sales Inc. Edison, NJ. 1995.

Quennell, Peter and Johnson, Hamish. Who's Who in Shakespeare. William Morrow & Co., Inc. NY. 1973.

Wright, William Aldis (editor. Four Great Tragedies by William Shakespeare. Washington Square Press. NY. (date unknown).

Littauer, Joel Sommer. Excerpt from The Cracked Mirror: The Minor Characters. Retrieved from: http://boingyboingy.com/jump/ophelia_crackedmirror.html. 2000.
Author Unknown. "The Meaning of Plants." Retrieved from: http://www.geobop.com/Symbols/Plants/meanings/. 2002.

P.S. this paper got an A, but that was my senior year in high school. college grading is a little steeper and so don't count on getting an A. and don't copy word for word, that is a BAD idea.

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