Hamlet Character Analysis Ophelia

1136 words - 5 pages

The play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, contains many complex characters involved in the royal court of Denmark. After the king’s tragic death, his son, Hamlet begins to lose his mind, leaving behind the girl he once loved. Ophelia, the daughter of the Lord Chamberlain to the royal court, remains a static character; obedient and passive, while still maintaining her innocence. Upon the death of a loved one, however, she goes mad, her own end reflective of her inborn characteristics.
Ophelia lived a very sheltered life, causing her to maintain an innocence even as she matured. Those around her aided this maintenance by treating as such. Before her brother, Laertes, departs for France, he warns Ophelia of her possible corruption if she stays with Hamlet. “‘The canker galls the infants of the the spring too oft before their buttons be disclosed. And in the morn and liquid dew of youth, contagious blastments are most imminent. Be wary, then. Best safety lies in fear. Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.’”(1.3.38-43) He is referring to Hamlet as the canker and Ophelia as the flower which has not yet bloomed. Hamlet’s promiscuity leads Laertes to believe that he will corrupt his innocent sister, warning her that even the best of girls can be led down the wrong path. Those around her feel obligated to protect her innocence, and her brother does so by trying to scare her away from someone who is not as innocent as she is. In her conversations with the more experienced Hamlet, this innocence becomes more obvious. While watching the play, their conversation turns more sexual, and Hamlet asks the innocent girl, “‘Do you think I meant country matters?’ ‘I think nothing, my lord.’ ‘That’s a fair thought to lie between maid’s legs.’ ‘What is, my lord?’ ‘Nothing’”(3.2.106-9) She obviously misses Hamlet’s message, or pretends to do so for the sake of her reputation. He obviously references his desire to have sex with her by mentioning the possibility of him between her legs, and she does not seem to understand the reference. She lacks the experience that most women of her age have, and therefore her innocence makes her incapable of truly understanding sex. Even her father understands that her daughter lacks the basic common sense of those who have experienced life and scoffs at her naivety. “‘He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me.’ ‘Affection! Pooh, you speak like a green girl, unsifted in such perilous circumstance. Do you believe his ‘tenders,’ as you call them?’ “I do not know, my lord, what I should think.’”(1.3.99-104) Polonius fears of the corruption of his daughter and must make it clear to her that Hamlet’s affection means something other than what she believes it to be. Hamlet’s lack of innocence almost matches Ophelia’s abundance of it, making her families attempts to preserve her innocence more difficult. Ophelia’s innocent prevails, however, by remaining passive and obedient.
From the beginning of the play,...

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