Hamlet, By William Shakespeare Essay

1120 words - 4 pages

“To the celestial, and my soul’s idol, the beautified Ophelia, Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; ‘O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art to reckon my groans: but that I love thee best, O most best, believe it.” These words, penned by Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, reflect many of the characteristics that influence Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius. From this quote and many others, we are able to gather that Ophelia is a beautiful, young, and loyal maiden in whom Hamlet seeks to please. As a supporting character to Hamlet, her presence provides many opportunities to transcend into the inner person of Hamlet. Later, she becomes tangled between the opposing forces of revenge and ensconcing ones sin. Ophelia becomes a major character in understanding not only Hamlet the person but also the meaning of Hamlet as a complete story. When all is said and done and the final word is read, Ophelia’s role is pivotal in dissecting the play because she provides a dynamic parallel to the stages of Hamlet’s behavior throughout the play and provides the audience with the an important moral of what the play is teaching.

Ophelia is an accelerated view from the beginning of who Hamlet is to the end of what he becomes. As the play begins we see two young, passionate lovers that, if circumstances would permit, would seek one another in courtship. This we know to be true of Ophelia, as when we are first introduced to Ophelia in Act I Scene III, she is cautioned from both her brother, Laertes, and her father, Polonius, to not fall for or give any more attention to Hamlet as she hitherto has been. This scene also provides the answer to why Ophelia is prevented from showing the affection to Hamlet that she desires; that being her strong loyalty in following the cautions and commands of her brother and father. These cautions and commands from Ophelia’s family also display for the audience the blockade that prevents Hamlet from obtaining Ophelia despite his numerous attempts to woo her. Thus, in the beginning of the play, we are presented with two paralleling figures that will pattern one another from early lovers to victims of deceit until they are mentally displaced.

For both Hamlet and Ophelia, a strength at the commencement of the play leads them in a tragic downward spiral. Both characters are true and loyal individuals. Both are given a task that tests the bounds of their faithfulness to the burden. For Hamlet it is the charge to seek revenge on his uncle that is given to him by the Ghost of his Father. This begins his internal struggle between being loyal to the wishes of the dead king or being loyal to the virtue of his heart and shunning the vice of revenge. Ophelia is thrust into difficult circumstances as she battles to remain true to her vows of not “slandering any moment leisure” by giving heed to Hamlet’s words and yet fight off her predilection to be loyal to herself...

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