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Deathly Deranged: Ophelia's Role Essay

741 words - 3 pages

Would Hamlet be different without Ophelia? This question could refer to both the character of Hamlet and the actual play. Ophelia’s role in Hamlet has been discussed by numerous critics, and many of them have questioned the necessity of Ophelia. While she is undoubtedly a lesser character compared to Gertrude, Claudius, or Hamlet, her eventual madness and demise provides an interesting discussion for Shakespeare’s critics. Although some critics believe that Ophelia only plays a miniscule role in Hamlet, she is nevertheless an essential component of the play. Ophelia serves as a foil to Gertrude, adds another feminine perspective, advances the theme of madness, and establishes the foundation ...view middle of the document...

While Ophelia represents the traditional woman in Shakespearian times, Gertrude serves as a foil to that role.
Madness is undeniably one of the most important themes in Hamlet. It affects everyone, and Ophelia is no exception. Ophelia advances Hamlet’s own madness and is eventually devoured by a madness of her own. Many questions appear on the topic of Ophelia’s madness. Is her hysteria occasioned by her father’s death? Is her derangement caused by her rejected love for Hamlet? Or is her madness caused by both, in varying degrees? While John Draper argues that, “Ophelia’s madness comes about because that father, whom she loved so dearly, came to a sudden and shocking end,” others disagree (61). Some say Ophelia’s lunacy derived solely because of Hamlet, while others state that a combination of those two tragedies caused it (Ronk, 21). Regardless of the answer to that question, Ophelia affected Hamlet so much that his feigned madness could have some reality to it. As Hamlet declared when he jumped into Ophelia’s grave, he loved her more than anyone could ever love. Surely, her refusal of his love (caused by her obedience to her father and her...

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