The Fall Of Ophelia In Shakespeare's Hamlet: Prince Of Denmark

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Love turns to madness, which in turn leads to death. Bluntly tragic, this line is fit for a Shakespearian play, and aptly applies to the fall of Ophelia in Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare. Though the main character is Hamlet himself, the maiden Ophelia provides an equally interesting figure. Amanda Mabillard explains in her article entitled “Ophelia”, “Of all the pivotal characters in Hamlet, Ophelia is the most static and one-dimensional. She has the potential to become a tragic heroine -- to overcome the adversities inflicted upon her -- but she instead crumbles into insanity, becoming merely tragic.” (Mabillard 1). In Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, Ophelia’s innocence and dependence on the men in her life; specifically, …show more content…
Laertes had warned Ophelia against Hamlet. However, prompted by her father and her own emotions, Ophelia continues to love the Prince. Through actions and words Hamlet gives her every right to believe that he loves her in return. As Ophelia explains to her father, "He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me,” (1.3.99-100) and later, “My lord, he hath importuned me with love in honourable fashion,” (1.3.110-111). Ophelia places great trust in her relationship with Hamlet. She is further convinced that Hamlet is madly in love with her when, in his false insanity, he enters her room and speaks wildly and passionately to her in Scene I of Act II. She is, however, frightened and, in a later scene, confronts him and refuses to accept his admiration. Hamlet then vehemently denies that he had ever harbored feelings for her, “you should not have believed me…I loved you not!” (3.1.115-116). Ophelia replies in desperation, “O woe is me/T’have seen what I have seen, see what I see” (3.1.152-153). Mark Tayler, in his literary criticism entitled “Shakespeare’s Hamlet” directly addresses Ophelia’s state of mind at this particular moment stating, “The present perfect tense recalls the good old days of their romance before the death of Hamlet 's father (…) the present tense …show more content…
The play revolves around Hamlet’s fabricated madness, but in the end it is Ophelia who becomes truly mad. The snatches of hymnals, and references that she sings in her crazed state are truly fastening. Alison Chapman provides numerous examples of the significance of Ophelia’s rhymes in her scholarly essay “Ophelia’s ‘old lauds’”. Chapman writes, “In the middle of her first mad scene, Ophelia abruptly pronounces, "They say the owl was a baker 's daughter" (Hamlet 4.5.42-43), and, like the old lauds she sings at her death, the folkloric story she seizes on here to express her personal anguish and insanity is deeply expressive of a lost world of medieval piety” (Chapman 3). In the midst of her insanity, Ophelia utters words so deep and philosophical that they rival the intellect of Hamlet himself. The cause of Ophelia’s madness is her dependency, and the reason for her dependency is her innocence. When the men on whom Ophelia depends are proven false or removed from her, she is driven to desperate insanity and in her senseless state, she drowns herself. In Act IV, Scene VII, the Queen relates the tragic death of Ophelia to Laertes,
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