The Destruction Of Ophelia In Hamlet By William Shakespeare

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In Hamlet by William Shakespeare Ophelia painfully removes herself from her intimate relationship with Hamlet out of obedience to her father’s request as she must carry out her father’s wishes as an unmarried young woman. Ophelia is treated like a pet throughout the play and seems to be but an object that the other characters use to their benefit. The play progresses and the broken relationship seems only to hurt Ophelia more and Hamlet as well as he does not know that it was Ophelia’s father Polonius’ idea. Polonius is then accidentally slain by Hamlet later on which only breaks the already tender spirit of Ophelia and sends her into a hysterical craze. Ophelia begs to see Gertrude, the queen of Denmark, out of some unexplained desperation. …show more content…
She starts her first song by speaking of a man, her father, that is “dead and gone” with “a “grass-green turf” with “his heels a stone” (31-32). Ophelia was stripped of the chance to say goodbye to her father one last time, to tell him her feelings about Hamlet, and to have him see her grow into a true woman all by her ex-lover, Hamlet. This is such a universal pain that evokes pity and empathy even in the twenty-first century, years after Shakespeare wrote it. The contrast in imagery of a wrongful, bloody death and a burial “larded all with sweet flowers” points out the fondness Ophelia felt for her father as her mind puts a bittersweet spin on the situation (40). It is in these lines that the audience can see her humanity and mourning come through the madness. Further into this speech, Ophelia’s songs shift from a tale of an innocent man’s death to bitterly angry stories of a lover and his broken promise. A man charmed a young woman into his bed by promising her sweet thoughts of marriage and commitment until he had defiled her “that out a maid never departed more” (54-55). Ophelia recognizes that Hamlet was to be held accountable for her misery: “by Cock, they are to blame” (61). In this time, virginity was the only thing that women had of worth and without it had very little chance of gaining a …show more content…
The haunting use of song and images were decisively used on Shakespeare’s part to give the reader deeper understanding of Ophelia’s pain throughout her rant of madness. She dolefully sings, “but I cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him i' th' cold ground” while weeping and staying to the trochaic meter Shakespeare has set forth (67-69). What is most significant about Ophelia’s speech is that she chooses to sing her words mostly rather than speaking them which offers several cases of rhyme and alliteration. Rhyme brings attention to portions of her songs and speech, while alliteration emphasizes the words inside of them. Rhyming also aids the readers in understanding the tune that Ophelia may be singing along to all the while increasing the sensory aspects of the speech. Nearing the end, Ophelia repeats “good night” several times, amplifying her concluding remarks and whisks herself away just as abruptly as she came on (71).
In Hamlet, Ophelia’s character is one of tragedy and frustration but is justified as she is cheated out of the few things she is available to in life. In this eerie speech, Ophelia’s madness is triggered by the loss of her father and the broken relationship with her lover, Hamlet. Shakespeare was able to convey Ophelia’s mental set through her wording and use of song while breaking from

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