The Weakness of Ophelia Essay

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Ophelia's madness was brought on by a multitude of medical and social factors. Cultural restrictions always determined a woman’s behavior. Her lack of a mother, even that of a mother figure left Ophelia without any source of a female advisor. On top of the lack of a major female figure, her father was overbearing and selfish. However, his sudden death at the hands of Hamlet truly left her alone. Madness is usually brought on by depression, medically speaking, and Ophelia suffered a broken heart. She loved Hamlet, but she was forced to obey her father as in that society considered women not as people, they were objects to be owned. There also is a theory where Ophelia is pregnant and the sudden change of hormones plus the social stigma of…show more content…
In the late sixteenth century, men held power, not only over women, but also over their children, servants and/or apprentices they had. In extreme cases, women were sometimes viewed as objects; and in this inferiority women needed to strive for four virtues: obedience, chastity, silence, and piety (Traub, 129-30). Without such virtues women were subjected to the torture of social solitude and ridicule as well as assuring a man's dominance. Women were defined in society primarily by their economic status but what closely followed was one of the virtues they strove to obey, chastity. Being virginal, if unmarried, and faithfulness to her husband, if married, marked how they were viewed by others. If they were not chaste, the entire population may as well know of such and that would bring immense shame upon her family, and any associated with her. Ophelia is a girl caught within a society, backwards it may seem, but appropriate for the century in which Hamlet was written. Ophelia's lack of a mother was not mentioned but none the less obvious. She might have died from disease or complications in birth. Though she did not have a mother during her teenage years, Gertrude occasionally posed as a surrogate mother figure to Ophelia. This was assured due to her

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