Hamlet's Manipulation In Ophelia

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Midway through Hamlet, Ophelia is well under the control of Polonius and Hamlet. They are both manipulating and using her as a pawn as to get what they want and she has little to no say about it. Act 2, scene 1 serves as a turning point, as it is when Ophelia begins to realize the manipulation she faces at the hands of both her father and Hamlet, and that she can only truly gain her freedom when she herself descends into madness. Polonius’ manipulation, Hamlet’s control and Ophelia’s own thoughts and actions demonstrate her descent, and the aftermath.

Polonius’ image and plans take precedence over his daughter’s physical and mental wellbeing. This leaves her vulnerable and in danger in regards to Hamlet. When Ophelia describes Hamlet accosting her, Polonius’ reacts by saying: This is the very ecstasy of love, Who’s violent property fordoes itself, And leads the will to desperate undertakings As oft as any passion under heaven That does afflict our nature (2.1.102-107)
Love is personified in this instance. It is seen as violent and desperate, and as something that can shatter one’s being and take control of one’s self, much like it did with Hamlet in his own madness. Polonius explains all of this to Ophelia, but does not give her any instruction as to what she should do in respect to the situation, and his passiveness really shows. Any fight that she had in her at the beginning of the scene has been lost; she ultimately submits to her father when she realizes that

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