Ophelia's Madness Explained Essay

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Ophelia’s Madness Explained Joan Montgomery Byles’s view of Ophelia’s behavior in “Ophelia’s Desperation” and Sandra K. Fischer’s view of Ophelia’s behavior in “Ophelia’s Mad Speeches” contradict each other and present opposing explanations. Byles’s view is that Ophelia is defined by the male roles in her life (i.e. her father, brother, and lover). Fischer’s view is that Ophelia is simply grieving the loss of her father and fails to break the hold of the men in her life. These two analyses present opposing explanations because one author is saying that Ophelia simply cracked because she has lost her father and she just could not handle it and the other is stating that Ophelia went mad and committed suicide because she was tired of…show more content…
It could be perceived that since she is singing about her father in her current mental state it could point to the root of her madness being her father’s death. The rest we hear from Ophelia in the play is her singing about her dead father and how she hopes that is soul is at rest and talking to her brother about how their father is dead. Fischer’s view is not incorrect, though it contradicts Byles’s view. Byles’s view is that Ophelia’s madness is derived from the fact that throughout her life she has depended on the men in her life and is really very angry at all of them for one reason or another. Ophelia is never allowed to speak for herself, her opinion is never heard; generally she just sits tight and let’s the men do the talking. Ophelia just goes with whatever she is told and does not argue about it. There is a ton of evidence from the play that clearly sheds some light on her dependence and obedience to the men in her life. Byles’s states that, “Ophelia is frightened of her father, she is not allowed to declare an emotional world of her own.” This comment is one hundred percent true. When Ophelia first appears in the play she is speaking to Laertes and later Polonius about Hamlet. Her brother and father are basically warning her about Hamlet and that she should stay away from him. Clearly Ophelia has feelings
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