The Character of Ophelia

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Shakespeare's Ophelia always seems to do as she is told, even if it is strongly against what her heart says. She is found constantly betraying her one true love, Hamlet, by merely obeying her father, Polonius, and later the king, Claudius, who believe that Hamlet has gone mad. Polonius seemed to be against Hamlet from the start, which should have been at least a signal to Ophelia to try and sneak around to be with Hamlet since Polonius did not even know him. First, Polonius told Ophelia not to ever speak to Hamlet again in act 3.1. I think that if she was truly in love with him, which she showed towards the end of the play, she would have either defied her father or would have agreed and still would have gone to see Hamlet secretly. Hamlet has offered Ophelia gifts along with his love to gain Ophelia's love, but Polonius believes that this is Hamlet just trying to woo Ophelia, and that Hamlet does not really love his daughter. Although Ophelia does try to defend Hamlet, she only says three things to try and protect their relationship, and then ends with, "I shall obey, my lord."(1.3 137) She could have just kept on arguing with him, which would not have been a very smart move, or she could keep up a secret relationship with Hamlet without her father knowing, but she decides not to do this. Next, when Hamlet comes running into her room looking like he has just seen a ghost, which in fact he has, and she does not say a word to him. She just looks at him like he is crazy and watches him go out the door without saying a word. Afterwards, she even tells her father about what happened, and this causes Polonius to start believing that Hamlet has gone mad. The second thing that Ophelia does, which causes her to lose Hamlet's trust, is set up a plan with King Claudius and Polonius to see if Hamlet is crazy and if Ophelia is the reason for his insanity. The king and Polonius hide while Ophelia is told to find Hamlet where he normally walks around and find out if he is insane and what has made him that way. Ophelia goes along with their plan willingly; she is not thinking of how Hamlet feels, and just follows the orders she has been given.

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