Hamlet And Ophelia's Character Analysis

861 Words 4 Pages
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the emotions of women juxtapose those of men through the characters of Hamlet and Ophelia. Both characters lose their fathers to murder committed by someone to whom they are close: Hamlet Senior’s murder committed by his brother, Hamlet Jr.’s uncle, and Polonius by his daughter’s lover. Yet, each deals with grief in their own unique method: Hamlet’s has each and every move carefully thought out and crafted, while Ophelia’s loses control of her passivity, thus unraveling her mental state. However, each character’s turmoil ends with the same result: a self-inflicted death taken with “readiness” (V.ii.218).
Shakespeare’s portrayal of gender differences through other characters’ reactions to grief indicates the societal
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Though both are valid reactions to a death, the Kübler-Ross Model states that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, though the model sets emphasis on communication of feelings, of which neither of the two characters accomplish. Both characters, regardless of gender diverge from this theory, appearing to skip the majority of the steps, unless Hamlet’s doubt of his father’s ghost counts as denial, that he waits, seemingly “expecting for things to seem normal” (Patricelli Para. 2), or the “readiness is all” (V.ii.218) of their own impending deaths could be construed as depression, the “inevitability and reality of… their own helplessness” (Patricelli Para. 5). Their inability to conform to society’s expectations of grief further alienates them from their counterparts understanding their actions. Hamlet’s grief is dominated by his anger primarily that directed at his mother Gertrude for remarrying so quickly and towards his uncle for the murder and then recommending that is is in his best interest if the kingdom moves on and forgets Old Hamlet. Ophelia is not only grieving the death of her father, but also the rejections of her former love in his instruction to “get thee to a nunnery” (III.i.137-137) and his denial of their relationship in stating “I loved you not” (III.i. 119). Ophelia’s reaction to the loss of two of the most important men in her life is contrary to her speech to Gertrude and Claudius that she “cannot choose but weep” (IV.v.62). Instead, she descends into madness, singing nursery rhymes, dancing around, and making sexual innuendos, possibly in response to Hamlet’s patriarchal view of her in his speech stating that she is

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