Ophelia is a women who all her life has been told what to do by the men that she loves. Ophelia's father, brother, and her lover have controlled every aspect of her short life and even treated Ophelia with no respect. Although it may have seemed that Ophelia committed suicide over the loss of her loved ones, she actually committed suicide over the loss of her newly gained freedom. Exploring deeply into the play, one would uncover that in every instant that Ophelia had lost a loved one she does not show sadness. Only after her brother returns, does Ophelia truly lose her mind.
With ratted hair and wild eyes, and a voice that shifts rapidly between soft and biting, she is an unpredictable and truly mad Ophelia, sparing nothing from the viewers. She legitimately scares the other characters, assaulting the first guard she meets outside by ripping off his helmet and touching his armour, making the audience fear for his safety. When she is lead inside, calling loudly for the Queen, she frightens Gertrude so badly with her singing and clutching at the walls that the Queen legitimately runs from her. The audience is forced to fear for another character’s safety once more as Ophelia runs swiftly after her, nearly pinning her to the wall to continue her convoluted and sickening speech. She is constantly touching and feeling at things, fiddling with a string between her fingers and grasping the Queen’s necklace or at the sides of her own dress, and the movements of her head are jerky and erratic.
She is viewed by the audience as a feeble woman, who is hopelessly in love and incapable of making her own decisions. However, her character is much more complex. She is in a constant internal battle throughout the play but is never able to voice her concerns or opinions. All her life, Ophelia was not allowed to think for herself, but her madness--which was the result of cruelty from men in her life--enabled her to express herself at last.
Ophelia is such a typical character representing for Shakespeare’s intelligence that throughout the play, she gradually becomes a smart woman. At the beginning of the play, Ophelia is an obedient daughter who always follows her family’s direction: “I shall obey, my lord” (Act 1, sc 4). However, at the end of the play, Ophelia is aware of everything that happens around her. She gives each person in the court different followers with the different meanings. Her action expresses that she is a clever woman.
Throughout the play Hamlet uncovers horrible deeds his uncle has committed, which were “Remorseless, Treacherous, lecherous”. Hamlet wished to punish Gertrude but was prevented by his father’s ghost. In Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3 scene 2, Hamlet will “speak daggers to her but use none” representing his future interactions with Gertrude. Shakespeare uses this metaphor to show Hamlet’s hatred towards his mother and to create tension. In Act 3 Scene 4, Hamlet reveals Claudius’ involvement in his father’s death to his mother, but she thinks Hamlet has turned into a madman.
Ophelia: An object of Male Patriarchy “Ophelia is the object upon which the three male overlords in her life – Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes – exert their domination and control to further their own personal and political agendas”. (Tynelle, 18). My reading of Ophelia had been shaped by Tynelle Ann Olivas’s Thesis on “Who is Ophelia? An examination of the Objectification and Subjectivity of Shakespeare 's Ophelia”. My reading talks about how Ophelia is subject to Male Patriarchy, to which she receives in return humiliation, madness, and death.
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet there are many male characters, but the only two significant female characters are Ophelia and Gertrude. Ophelia is the daughter of Polonius, a high ranking official in the court in Denmark who serves as a love interest and an object of desire for Hamlet, although it is often unclear which at many point during the play. Gertrude is the wife of King Claudius, the widow of the former king, King Hamlet, and the mother of Hamlet. In Hamlet the women often appear as if they do not have a significant role in the play. However, Ophelia’s interactions with Hamlet exaggerate his apparent madness and by being a foil to Hamlet.
In the “nunnery scene” which is played in Hamlet, Ophelia (as per her father’s and King Claudius’ instruction) attempts to push Hamlet away. As Hamlet realizes that Ophelia is trying to cut ties with him, his mood changes from sweet and loving to angry and sour. In a fit of rage Hamlet curses Ophelia’s name, ruins her name in a public setting and leaves her, upset (and crying in most adaptations) as she expresses her sorrow about having to leave Hamlet. In Ophelia’s soliloquy following her interaction with Hamlet, Ophelia mourns the loss of her ‘one true love’ and the way that Hamlet was behaving. By attempting to leave Hamlet, Ophelia betrays him.