The Impact of Ophelia on Hamlet Essay

1973 Words 8 Pages
The Impact of Ophelia on Hamlet

Could the Bard of Avon have created a more innocent and obedient young lady in Hamlet than the victimized Ophelia? I think not. Let us discuss the ups and downs of her life in the play.

Michael Pennington in “Ophelia: Madness Her Only Safe Haven,” describes personality traits of the young lady:

This is the woman she might have become – warm, tolerant and imaginative. Instead she becomes jagged, benighted and imaginative. . . .Ophelia is made mad not only by circumstance but by something in herself. A personality forced into such deep hiding that it has seemed almost vacant, has all the time been so painfully open to impressions that they now usurp her reflexes and take possession
…show more content…
Ophelia agrees to abide by the advice: “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart.” After Laertes’ departure, Polonius inquires of Ophelia concerning the “private time” which Hamlet spends with her. He dismisses Hamlet’s overtures as “Affection, puh!” Polonius considers Ophelia a “green girl,” incapable of recognizing true love: “These blazes . . . you must not take for fire.” He gets her assurance that she will not talk with Hamlet anymore. Ophelia shows herself to be pliable and obedient to family members. Grace Latham, in her critical essay “O Poor Ophelia,” alleges a sheltered existence of the young Ophelia:

It has been suggested that Ophelia was put out to nurse, and passed her childhood in a farmhouse; but not only is there no line in Hamlet to warrant our adoption of such a theory, but the girl herself lacks the healthy practical tone of mind, the self-reliance in little things, which a rough open-air rearing would have given her. It is more probable that she grew up under Polonius’ own eye, and that with the same want of perception of character which distinguishes him in his dealings with Hamlet, while he pushed forward his independent son, he kept his gentle, timid daughter under stern control at home. (165)

After the ghost’s revelation to Hamlet, Ophelia is the first to witness the hero’s “antic disposition.” And
Open Document