The Roles Of Minor Characters In Hamlet By William Shakespeare Ophelia Character Analysis

1228 words - 5 pages

OpheliaCharacter AnalysisEven as a minor character in the play Hamlet, the character Ophelia plays a vital part in the development of both the plot and thematic ideas. However, Ophelia is an extremely complicated character as she can be read in many different ways. This in effect causes the readers or audience to be more insightful and gain a greater understanding of the plot and thematic ideas in the play such as "Love and Loyalty," and "Madness." When exploring the character of Ophelia we must take into consideration personal beliefs, knowledge and outside criticisms which may affect our reading of the character. For example, if the reader analyses Ophelia's character from the perspective of feminism, concerned with the equal rights and fair treatment of women, or historical context, an understanding of what it was like in the period of time the play was both written and set; their views of the character will differ, which then causes the reader to have a more in depth understanding of the plot and themes.Ophelia is present in only a few scenes of the play. This is due to the fact that when the play was written in the Elizabethan period females were considered to be very "private" sort of people. There job was to stay home, look after the family and complete the housework. They were not allowed to perform and therefore there are very few female characters in Shakespeare's plays. If a play did consist of female characters they were generally played by young boys, which effectively caused restrictions and limitations amongst characterisation. Using feminism makes it possible to believe that Ophelia is not to pose as a main character of the play, but to act as a "foil," to help the audience understand the more important characters in the play. Hamlet's madness and Ophelia's feelings of love for both Hamlet and her father are prime examples of the use of Ophelia as a foil. In both instances she is being used to help the audience identify the emotions and discrepancies of Hamlet and her father. Unfortunately, as Ophelia's presence is limited it is believed that her character, although important, is poorly developed and therefore provides readers with the opportunity to make up their own judgement.Ophelia can be argued as a character that despite her beauty is weak, frail and easily controlled. Her lack of self confidence makes her an easy target for Hamlet's abuse. Ophelia has a very connected relationship with her brother, Laertes, and father, Polonius, but unfortunately she allows them to tell her how to live her life. An example of this is where Laertes warns Ophelia against having a relationship with Hamlet:For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,A violet in the youth of primy nature,Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,The perfume and suppliance of a minute,No more.(Act 1: Scene 3 lines 5-10)He suggests to Ophelia that Hamlet may not actually love her, he just wants a girlfriend because that is the...

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