The Obscurity of Ophelia

Ophelia is one of the prominent characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. She was in love with Hamlet who was heir to the throne of Denmark, and in certain situations Hamlet reciprocated. Nonetheless, Ophelia’s father and brother warned her to stay away of Hamlet in order to guard her childlike innocence. Eventually, Hamlet takes Ophelia’s virginity and kills her father, leading her to take her own life despite the fact her family claims she “fell off of a willow branch”. Her death is considered one of the most poetic in play history as even though the entirety of her life was dictated by the men around her, her own suicide was her one chance to have a say in her own life, even though it meant ending it.

Some critics say that Ophelia was a innocent girl, taken advantage of by those around her, but fail to take into account situations in the play where she displayed cleverness and wits. On the other hand, some consider her a conniving harlot, only taking into account her cleverness but neglecting the many times she was naive and innocent. In either interpretation, the audience is dictating who Ophelia is to them, just as the men in the play did.

In the end, Ophelia will forever remain one of the most tragic and neutral character of plays, doomed to never find love and forever controlled by others, an amazing symbolization of femininity.

The song Ophelia by The Lumineers states very well “Heaven help a fool who falls in love”.

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