Excerpt via Term Newspaper:
Characterization of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the character of Ophelia is probably the most tragic, as her wishes and desires will be constantly sublimated in favor of the scheming character types around her. Essentially she is used as bait for Hamlet, and when her father passes away, she is still left to her individual madness and death (a death whose circumstances keep open the probabilities of accident or suicide). By reviewing the portrayal of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it will be possible to see how the play uses her conversations to heighten the tragedy of her death and eventually implicate the other character types, and especially Polonius and Gertrude, more fully in her malfunction and loss of life, thus revealing the dangerous nature of gender stereotypes and the sociable roles that they reinforce.
Prior to examining the character of Ophelia in more detail, it will be helpful to briefly analyze previous important work on the main topic of Ophelia’s characterization in enjoy as a means of orienting this kind of study within a critical framework as well as featuring some relevant observations pertaining to the later consideration of Ophelia. A review of Maurice Hunt’s essay “Impregnating Ophelia” will offer a way of looking at the text with an vision towards Ophelia’s possible pregnant state and how it can be expressed in the play’s refined characterization of her, which will show how Ophelia’s characterization throughout the play is by the personas around her.
As Hunt notes, “certainly the question of whether or not Ophelia is usually pregnant with Hamlet’s kid is not really original, ” but his consideration is unique because of the new proposition that “Shakespeare entails the complicity of the playgoer or audience in the likely impregnation of Ophelia, that impregnating her is in fact the consequence of the playgoer’s or reader’s ‘pregnant’ thoughts, as this kind of imagination plays over her characterization” (Hunt 641). It is important to note that Hunt can be “not in [his] article ever proclaiming that Ophelia is in fact pregnant, or that she has got sexual intercourse with Hamlet, ” but rather “that Shakespeare effectively gets auditors to imagine that she is pregnant, or provides strong lascivo appetites, inch so that ultimately, “impregnating, or not impregnating, Ophelia, takes place – or does not take place – because of the playgoer’s or reader’s intentions to find Polonius’s daughter” (Hunt 641). This is why Hunt uses the metaphor with the ‘pregnant’ thoughts; because the origin of Ophelia’s possible pregnant state is the head of the target audience or market, then simply those readers or target audience members in whose imaginations will be ‘pregnant’ with the possibility of motherhood will imbue Ophelia with this fine detail.
This conceptualization is crucial to comprehend, because it demonstrates in the audience/play relationship some of the same mechanics which result from the play itself, between other character types and Ophelia. She performs a number of different jobs for different people, and anybody can see her eventual chaos and loss of life as the word of her inability to take care of an id following the lack of one of these tasks, namely, regarding daughter. One may read Ophelia as some thing of an clear vessel, required to keep her own personality and wants largely unexpressed as a result of her historical and societal placement so that the that means in her life is created by her relation to different characters.
When the roles of daughter and lover come into mortal conflict following Hamlet’s murder of Polonius, she is unable to manage the resulting trauma, having never been given the opportunity to develop an independent individuality and mind beyond those imposed after her by simply her interpersonal roles. This is not to claim that Shakespeare is definitely engaging in almost any misogynistic stereotypes of vulnerable place or hysteria in his portrayal of Ophelia, but rather that he is applying Ophelia’s descent into chaos and fatality as a means of pointing out the destructive characteristics of these stereotypes and the interpersonal roles that they prescribe for people. With this in mind, it is currently possible to start an analysis of Ophelia in crucial moments through the entire play, in order to see how her relationships with other characters (namely, Polonius and Gertrude) in order to repress her psychological creation such that she actually is unable to effectively cope with the loss of Polonius.
Right away upon her introduction in to the play, Ophelia’s forced subservience to various other characters is definitely demonstrated, since nearly the entirety of her first scene in the event that spent being lectured simply by her close friend and father to stay far from Hamlet. Reading their entreaties now makes them seem almost quaint, while Laertes begs his sister to “weigh what reduction your exclusive chance may maintain, / If with too credent hearing you list his tracks, / Or perhaps lose your heart, or perhaps your terne treasure open / To his unmaster’d importunity” (Hamlet 1 . three or more. 30-32). The ludicrousness of Laertes overbearing instructions is definitely pointed out simply by Ophelia, once she retorts that this individual should “Do not, for instance a ungracious pastors do, as well as Show me the steep and thorny approach to nirvana, / Whiles, like a puff’d and dangerous libertine, as well as Himself the primrose route of dalliance treads, / And recks not his own rede” (1. several. 47-51). Ophelia is seeking to point out the double common that Laertes is engaging in, and the girl nearly succeeds except for the arrival of Polonius, whom cuts their particular conversation short before starting in on his own.
Although the cultural structures of times allowed Ophelia the opportunity to freely challenge her brother, and do so a lot more eloquently than his very own fumbling efforts to inspire chastity, the girl with not allowed to rebut Polonius so directly, and thus need to play stupid, stating “I do not know, my personal lord, what I should think, ” and telling Polonius that “I shall comply with, my lord” (1. three or more. 104-136). This scene is crucial for focusing on how the other characters affect Ophelia’s mental development, because it briefly passade with the idea of liberty before shutting it down entirely (and explains how come Laertes was not listed between Ophelia’s crucial relationships earlier in this essay).
As someone will recall, the thesis of this composition is that Ophelia’s madness and death are the result of her internalization in the roles prescribed for her simply by others, so that when one of these roles is usually destroyed with all the death of Polonius, she’s unable to manage, having been made ill-equipped through her period spent taking the vagaries of others. Yet , upon her first advantages Ophelia provides far more organization, cleverly quarrelling with her brother and some methods putting him in his place for not minding his very own business. As a result, although all their relationship helps to define both of them, their marriage is an equitable one, with every single influencing the other to ensure that Ophelia is definitely not in the end made subservient to Laertes (this is why Laertes was not listed among the list of relationships which usually stunt Ophelia’s psychological development). However , Laertes leaves nearly immediately, to ensure that brief expect of an equitable life is taken away from Ophelia at the beginning of the play, and she never recovers later on. This field further displays the repressive nature of her marriage with Polonius and the slowing effect it has on her psychological development, because Polonius tells her to “think yourself a baby, inch which the girl ultimately agrees to (1. 3. 105). This infantile psychology makes her not able to cope with Polonius’ death, to ensure that her madness may in the end be traced back to this scene, with everything else that occurs afterwards simply serving to speed her along toward her inescapable demise.
Later on in the enjoy, Ophelia is employed as bait by king and Polonius (and by default, Gertrude) in order that they might listen directly into Ophelia and Hamlet’s dialogue in order to determine his programs. The field demonstrates the utter powerlessness Ophelia has become forced in at this point, because she has recently been chosen to engage in the scam without any input of her own. Whilst one may possibly expect these kinds of wildly disrespectful behavior for Polonius or the king (who did murder his very own brother, after all), nevertheless this field also reveals the enabling nature of Gertrude, whom, as full, serves to boost the gendered stereotypes and restrictions with their society. Therefore, after the king has outlined his program, Gertrude tackles Ophelia and says “for your portion, Ophelia, I actually do wish as well as That the good gems be the happy trigger / Of Hamlet’s wildness” (3. 1 . 38-40). Hopefully this displays how fully Gertrude, as the only various other female character in the play, serves to compliment the restrictions imposed upon Ophelia by the other personas, and especially her father, for the reason that best your woman can carry out is expect that Hamlet is operating weird because Ophelia is just so fairly.
Gertrude will stay important later on, as the lady relates the storyplot of Ophelia’s death, although briefly it really is worth showing that Hamlet and Ophelia’s discussion in this landscape, because it shows why this essay will not hold Hamlet accountable for her death just as Polonius or Gertrude, even though Hamlet is definitely the one who actually kills Polonius. Although Hamlet is highly cruel, informing Ophelia that “If thou dost marry