Ophelia's Madness In Hamlet Ela 12 Comprehensive Essay

2286 words - 10 pages

Hamlet Essay Final Draft
“God hath given you one face and you make yourself another,”(III.i.137-138) Hamlet once described her. In the Play Hamlet written by William Shakespeare, Ophelia, daughter of Polonius and love of Hamlet, is one of the only two female characters. Overall, Ophelia displays a complex character that struggles with an overprotective family tie and her relationship with Hamlet, which leads to her madness.
Ophelia’s personality is shaped and influences the most by the environment she lived in. Originating from her society, she lived in a typical patriarchal culture where male were the dominant sex and decision-makers. Females were seen inferior, and were expected to be beautiful, passionate, and pure under the control of male. In the family basis of this type of society, the role of father usually undertook the responsibility of seeking social status, prestige, welfare, and hence, occupying the authority of decision-making over their families. Reflecting on the children in the family, since male figures as parents possessed with predominate power of discourse rights, the majority of the decisions made by their children is either parental influences or parent-oriented. For instance, children had no say in who they married because fathers arranged a marriage for a purpose such as property, alliances or wealth. In the Play, Hamlet, there is no doubt that Polonius displayed parental love towards Ophelia. However, he is rather overprotective to her as if she is his possession. He takes her personal matters as family issues that needs decisions of all family members. Polonius describes Ophelia as if “(she) (does) not understand (herself) so clearly” (I.iii.96), indicating that Polonius doubts Ophelia’s ability to comprehend and cope with her own problems. Additionally, Polonius calls her “as it behooves my daughter, and your honour" (I.iii.97). It shows that Polonius cares more about the coherence of Ophelia’s behaviours and her social status since it reflects back on him as a royal servant and public figure. Suggesting for as it that Polonius’s real concern is his social prestige and his own interest rather than his daughter’s well being. Moreover, when reporting his plan to Claudius, he promises he will “loose (his) daughter to him” (II.ii.160), the word choice of “loose” reveals the fact that Polonius considers Ophelia as his possession and claims his ownership as if she is pets rather than his daughter. Chronologically, in the beginning of the Play when Ophelia’s brother, Laertes, first appears and interacts with her, he teaches her the nature of men and asks her not to date Hamlet. Polonius then enters, asking Laertes to “give every man thy ear, but few thy voice” and “this above all, to thine own self be true”. Those pieces of advice are to Laertes but not to Ophelia, which indicates the innate inferiority of females in their mind because they think women do not understand. After Laertes’ departure to France, Polonius talks...

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