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How Is Ophelia Portrayed In Hamlet

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Ophelia is one of the most recognisable and popular of Shakespeare’s heroines. She has been a focal point in literature and art throughout history. In early artwork Ophelia was displayed in a group context with the focus not being on her, usually being positioned in the background. Towards the end of the 18th century her character became popular at a fast pace, with Ophelia being the most depicted literary subjects in art.
This shows how much of an impact Ophelia has had on authors and artists whom want to show how they feel, and ultimately reflect what the society around them thinks. This explains why there is so much variation in Ophelia’s character, as over time society has different experiences and views things in different ways. Ophelia
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I chose to study Ophelia and her representations as when reading Hamlet, found her character very interesting. Was she the innocent virgin who was victimized by Hamlet or was she the sexual and mad woman that Hamlet claimed her to be?
To do this my focus question will be ‘How do historians account for the varying representations of characters in art and literature – specifically Ophelia?’ To support the question, the sub questions will be:
 How has Ophelia been portrayed in the play, ‘Hamlet’?
 How has Ophelia been portrayed in art throughout history?
 How has Ophelia been portrayed in literature throughout history?
 Has the way she has been represented changed over time?
 What do historians think about the way Ophelia is portrayed?
 Why do historians think there is such difference?
To find this information I need to further explore Ophelia’s role in the play, how she is shown in art and literature, how this has changed over time and how do historians explain this. To do this I will need to look at a range of sources that show how historians and artists portray Ophelia, articles of how and why historians think that her representation has changed so dramatically over time and what people today think of
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