Hamlet, By William Shakespeare

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In Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet,” we are introduced to the sorrow and tragic character of Ophelia. In spite of a comparatively marginal role throughout the play, Ophelia actually has quite a substantial impact on our understanding of the main character, Hamlet. With Ophelia’s highly controversial and often debated death, we are left to ponder about what truly constitutes action, attempting to make meaning of actions with relation to context. Specifically, through examining Gertrude’s description of Ophelia’s death, while also taking into consideration the character’s history and experiences, we can forge a connection between our understanding of Ophelia’s actions, and Hamlet’s dilemma with his own actions. To unravel the reality of…show more content…
From this depiction of the incident and the introduction of a spiteful branch that broke, we are given the perception that Ophelia’s decision to climb the branch was a miscalculated one purely for the intention of hanging her flowers, as opposed to it being the grounds of her suicide. This is supported with Gertrude description that after the branch broke, “down her weedy trophies and herself [Ophelia] Fell in the weeping brook” (4.7.174-75). From Gertrude’s choice of diction, considering her use of the word “fell,” instead of, perhaps, “jumped,” one is provided with an image of a young girl falling to her death, merely for lack of better judgment, and not a contrived suicide. Controversy is created as Gertrude recounts what happened next in how Ophelia “chanted snatches of old lauds,” rather than attempting to swim out of the stream; appearing “as one incapable of her own distress” (4.7.177-78). This could suggest that Ophelia is, in fact, committing suicide, as otherwise her reflex action after a fall would see her struggle to swim out. Yet, by factoring her character and state of mind, a more plausible explanation may be that she was blinded by her insanity, and unaware of her menacing circumstances in the stream. While no conclusive verdict can be made, Gertrude inclines us to conclude an accident as a higher probability to what took the life of this troubled woman. By close reading of Gertrude’s passage, emphasizing Ophelia’s
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