Ophelia In Shakespeare's Hamlet

622 Words3 Pages
In the seventeenth century, feminism had little to no supporters. Hamlet, was written before men and women were considered equal. In Shakespeare 's Hamlet, one of the main characters is Ophelia, one of the only two women in the play. Throughout the story, Shakespeare portrays Ophelia as obedient and powerless. She is highly dependent on her father and brother, to the point where Ophelia allows them to make decisions for her, rather than herself. In Hamlet, Ophelia is not even allowed to choose her own love interest. She spends time with Hamlet, and the two seem to be very close for a while. Eventually, Polonius discovers that Ophelia has been having relations with Hamlet and her father criticizes her for it. “Marry, I’ll teach you. Think yourself…show more content…
In modern literature, Polonius would be worried about his daughter and her feelings. Instead, Polonius considers his reputation far more important than Ophelia’s interests or feelings. Rather than being concerned with what’s actually happening between Hamlet and Ophelia, Polonius is only concerned about what could happen between them and how their relationship could effect him. So, Polonius’s demands that Ophelia stops seeing Hamlet, to protect his own appearance. In doing this, Polonius forces Ophelia to choose between her father and Hamlet. The men in the play are not faced with these decisions, because in this time period women were expected to do what they were told. (Rampton) It is not Hamlet that is criticized for having relations with Ophelia, but Ophelia who is criticized for having relations with Hamlet. In fact, Hamlet is never criticized for being with Ophelia because in the current age there is no reason for Hamlet to be criticized. Due to Ophelia’s obedient nature and despite her love for Hamlet, Ophelia chooses to betray Hamlet by allowing Polonius to spy on them. Rather than giving into her own desires, Ophelia listens to her father because women were supposed to listen to their parents before making their own decisions. Hamlet also criticizes Ophelia for having sex with him, telling her that she should go to a nunnery. Hamlet himself does…show more content…
Aside from being unable to make her own decisions, Ophelia also is incapable of living without the men in her life. While Laertes is in France, Hamlet accidentally murders Polonius and Ophelia is left alone without a brother or father to guide her. Since Hamlet has also distanced himself from Ophelia, she is truly alone and cannot depend on anyone. Compared to the men in the play, Ophelia’s death is a symbol of weakness, as she is the only one who commits suicide in the play. Before Ophelia kills herself, she seems to be going mad and drifting away from reality. However, this is also when Ophelia begins to have her own voice, she begins to express how she really feels. A notable example of this is when she tells Gertrude and Claudius about her encounter with
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