It is widely believed that “Living life without honor is a tragedy bigger than death itself” and this holds true for Hamlet’s Ophelia. Ophelia’s death symbolizes a life spent passively tolerating Hamlet’s manipulations and the restrictions imposed by those around her, while struggling to maintain the last shred of her dignity. Ophelia’s apathetic reaction to her drowning suggests that she never had control of her own life, as she was expected to comply with the expectations of others. Allowing the water to consume her without a fight alludes to Hamlet’s treatment of Ophelia as merely a device in his personal agenda. Her apparent suicide denotes a desire to take control of her life for once. Ophelia’s death is, arguably, an honorable one,
Ophelia experiences alienation throughout Hamlet, although she ends her life with suicide, unlike Hamlet. The queen places blame on Ophelia for Hamlet's madness and states: "...for your part, Ophelia, I do wish that your good beauties be the happy cause for Hamlet's madness..." (Shakespeare 140). The queen lightens her feelings of guilt for the murder and places the guilt upon Ophelia. Gertrude, the queen, knows that she has committed something wrong with the plot of killing Old Hamlet and therefore finds an outlet through Ophelia. Also, to try to discover Hamlet's cause of insanity, Claudius and Polonius use Ophelia to get closer to him and find out that perhaps they could conclude that his
Not only is Ophelia's death marked much less significant than the other male deaths noted in the previously mentioned articles, but Ophelia’s death is articulated as a passive accident, one that happened to occur, to no avail. Every other death in the play is met with vigorous analysis and criticism, unphased by the death of Ophelia, inadvertently caused by men. Ophelia is also described as “mermaid-like” adding to the previously set notion that women are sexual objects- even at death. At this point of the play, Hamlet proclaims in a bipolar and seemingly fraudulent manner that he has always loved Ophelia (although he ordered her to “get thee to a nunnery” and was the root of her abrupt madness and suicide), while Laertes threatens that he loved Ophelia more. The attention and passion are still not recognized and respected with Ophelia even after her death but is used as a game between two men to satisfy their guilt and build their ego, competing for the love of Ophelia that was only disrespected when she was
She falls in love with Hamlet, but begins turning away from him because he has become mad from losing his father; yet, no one can figure out why. Ophelia has empathy for Hamlet, but does not really experience his pain until her own father is killed. Ophelia instantly turns crazy from the shock of losing her father so suddenly. Her form of grief shows that she really cares for her father, and he was truly all she had. The news that Ophelia is losing her mind spreads throughout the kingdom and the queen starts to become concerned. As Gertrude is talking with the gentleman about Ophelia, he explains to her that, “She speaks much of her father, says she hears/ There’s tricks i’ the world, and hems and beats her hear,/ Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt” (IV.v.4-6). He is explaining that since her father’s death, she has become to hate the world she lives in realizing that it has nothing to offer her. Gertrude and Claudius also realize that her father must have meant a great deal to her to cause her to respond like this. Claudius says, “O, this is the poison of deep grief; it springs/ All from her father’s death” (IV.v.81-82). At the end, she commits suicide by drowning because she did not believe the suffering was worth being alive. Her grief was too strong and this is because she was attached to him by love. To lose someone she truly loved broke her
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to one’s demise. In the context of the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare many possibilities can be identified that pertain to Ophelia’s sudden death. Ophelia’s death was triggered by her mental breakdown due to the loss of her father. In the midst of her inner turmoil, her depression worsens as she learns that Hamlet, the man she loves departs to England. When she dies, Gertrude reports her death to Claudius and Laertes. Gertrude, The Queen of Denmark, is responsible for Ophelia’s death. By looking at Gertrude’s over protective relationship with Hamlet, her lack of initiative on the situations around her in a time of tragedy, as well as her vivid account of Ophelia’s death, evidence that
Ophelia, ever since her introduction, has been introduced to be a sweet and sympathetic person, providing the play with emotional moments, but her death was used as a bait and switch by Shakespeare towards audience members who had expected her to change the play’s somber mood to more hopeful one, which in turn makes the play even more tragic. After she had been visited by an apparently crazed Hamlet, she tells Polonius about the visit, prompting him to believe that the young prince is crazy in love, and goes out to tell the king. After it was explained to Claudius, and Hamlet’s former friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern failed to find the underlying cause of his madness, Polonius makes Ophelia approach Hamlet while he and the king hide and monitor his behavior.
Her death however has both innocent and corrupt overtones. She shows the innocence of women by drowning in a creek in a pure white dress. Water and white being symbols for purity and innocence. Yet, however he death may seem pure, it manipulates the male characters, Laertes and Hamlet. The death of Ophelia causes Laertes and Hamlet to dual. This ultimately ends in the death of both men, and other characters. In life, Ophelia was manipulated by the men around her, but in death Ophelia manipulates the men still living.
In this scene, Ophelia feels inner conflict because she is no longer sure that sleeping with Hamlet before marriage was the correct thing to do. Ophelia is having a lot of doubts about the decision that she has made, and this can be connected to her decision of whether to end her life or not. Eventually Ophelia decides that she can not live through the pain any further and drowns herself in a river. This is not the only instance in which Ophelia felt a large amount of inner conflict, another example is during Act I, Scene iii, when Laertes confronts Ophelia about her relationship with Hamlet: “Perhaps he loves you now… but you must fear, his greatness weigh’d, his will is not his own.” (I, iii, 25-28). At this point, Ophelia feels that her love towards Hamlet is reciprocated and she is not sure why Laertes is doubting her relationship so much. However, when Polonius joins the conversation and tells Ophelia to end the relationship, she responds with: “I do not know my Lord what I should think.” (I, III, 103). This shows how Ophelia is conflicted whether she should go with her own feelings, and keep seeing Hamlet, or to listen to her father as he should know what's best for her. Eventually, Ophelia decides that her feelings towards Hamlet do not matter, because Polonius wants her to end the relationship so she must do what he
Ophelia gave into her state of madness to easily. The Queen who first gives the news, "One woe doth tread upon another's heel, So fast they follow. Your sister's drowned, Laertes." (4,7,187-88) This throws more fuel on the ever growing fire burning within Laertes. The Queen hasn't realized how true her statement really is. Laertes now has the burden of carrying out is revenge, put forth by Claudius to rid himself of Hamlet. Laertes has sealed his fate by so obviously falling into Claudius' trap. When Laertes is dying he speaks off his treachery most clearly," Why as a woodcock to mine own springe,...I am justly killed with mine own treachery." (5,2, 336-37)I felt sorry for Laertes when he died. His death could have been easily prevented by either taking time to calm down or speak to Hamlet about murdering his father. Laertes, just like most other mend jumped straight into bloodshed and ultimately he deserves what happened to him.
Ophelia is Hamlet’s love interest throughout the entire play. However, in an attempt to be strategic, Hamlet feigns insanity in order to be deceiving and in turn breaks Ophelia's heart. His sudden disinterest towards her coupled with her father Polonius and brother Laertes’ commands to stay away from Hamlet composes a dire internal conflict within Ophelia's mind. She is torn between her undying love for Hamlet versus her desire to be an obedient daughter and sister. In addition, Hamlet unintentionally murders Polonius rather than Claudius, which also adds to Ophelia's insanity. To make matter worse, Ophelia has no mother figure within her life. So taken all together, she is stuck in a constant battle within herself with nobody who is there for her. “I hope all will be well. We must be patient/ but I cannot choose but weep/ to think they would lay him/ i' th' cold ground” (Hamlet v, iv). This quote from Ophelia demonstrates her deep sorrow towards her father's death, as well as the start of her path to insanity. Her lack of a maternal figure leaves her with nobody to discuss her feelings and troubles with. Because of this constant battle within her life, Ophelia finds herself in a confrontation with her emotions, which ends in her official decision of suicide. Which one could argue makes her decisive in the end which may be true, but her internal struggle leading to her choice of suicide is what makes her a great example of a character struggling with uncertainty during times of
Laertes voices his concern of Hamlet's true intentions towards Ophelia and advises her to be wary of Hamlet's love. Laertes impresses upon Ophelia that Hamlet is a prince who, most likely, will have an arranged marriage. Hamlet's strong love for Ophelia withers after she rejects his affinity. Hamlet's extensive love for Ophelia resulted in grave suffering for Hamlet once his affection was rejected. Hamlet's appearance decays due to the rejection of his love for Ophelia "Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other" (Act 2, Scene 1, line 82). The loss of Ophelia's love for Hamlet causes Polonius to believe it has caused Hamlet to revert to antic disposition. Once Laertes learns of the death of his sister, he is afflicted with sadness. In the same way, Hamlet is shocked and enraged over Ophelia's demise. Both Hamlet and Laertes are so profoundly distressed at the death of Ophelia, they jump into her grave and fight each other.
Ophelia’s poignant suicide (or accidental death) might also be a source of sorrow for Hamlet, as he often states throughout the play that he loves her. Gertrude (Hamlet’s mother) describes her as having dies naturally, maybe having fallen accidentally into the river, but had not made an effort to save herself. Even in death she is seen as beautiful, and it is a doleful reminder that all things, even beautiful, have an ephemeral time on this
She also shows compassion for the plight of Ophelia when she loses her mind, and later it is Gertrude who reports the death in some of the most poetic lines in the play. She obviously approved of the affection which existed between Hamlet and Ophelia, but this only becomes apparent after Ophelia's death.
As a result of spending her life under the protection of her father and his orders, due to her submissive nature, Ophelia remains naive and unaware of the deceit and bitterness surrounding her which renders her incapable of facing the harsh realities of life once her father dies and Hamlet leaves her. After the death of her father and with the absence of both Laertes and Hamlet from her life at the time, Ophelia is driven to madness and Gertrude explains it the King: “She speaks much of her father, says she hears there’s tricks i ' the ' world, and hems, and beats her heart, spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt that carry but half sense.” Finally seeing the grim reality of her surroundings without her father to hide behind, Ophelia loses her sanity and eventually end her own life as she no longer knows how to lead an independent life. In conclusion, Ophelia is portrayed as a puppet on strings being pulled around by the males in her life, making all her decisions and controlling what she can and can’t do, and once all the men are gone, she no longer able to function on her own and she ends her life as a result.