Essay on the Oppression of Ophelia in Hamlet

1243 Words 5 Pages
Male Oppression of Ophelia in Hamlet

In The Tragedy of Hamlet, Shakespeare developed the story of prince Hamlet, and the murder of his father by the king's brother, Claudius. Hamlet reacted to this event with an internal battle that harmed everyone around him. Ophelia was the character most greatly impacted by Hamlet's feigned and real madness - she first lost her father, her sanity, and then her life. Ophelia, obedient, weak-willed, and no feminist role model, deserves the most pity of any character in the play.

As the play opened, Hamlet and Ophelia appeared as lovers experiencing a time of turbulence. Hamlet had just returned home from his schooling in Saxony to find that his mother had quickly remarried her dead
…show more content…
This passage conveys the first and only sparks of defiance from Ophelia. When her father gave her similar advice, she caved in and agreed to his wishes. She was playing the role of the typical Elizabethan female, women who were expected to be submissive and weak. Ophelia simply wanted to make the men in her life happy, however, and those sparks of rebellion were soon extinguished.

Ophelia allowed herself to become a sort of marionette in Polonius' schemes toward understanding the seemingly mad prince. While her relationship with Hamlet was on the line, she allowed Polonius to commandeer the strings that determined her actions. Polonius was determined that Hamlet's supposed madness stemmed from lovesickness for Ophelia. He convinced Ophelia that her betrayal of Hamlet was a necessary evil and she began to relay all of Hamlet's messages and attempts at communication to him. He told the king and queen: "This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me, And more above, hath his solicitings, As they fell out by time, by means, and place, All given to mine ear" (2.2.133-136).
Even Polonius, arguably the least intelligent character in the play, realizes that Ophelia is acting out of obedience more than anything else. Ophelia was
Open Document