• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Ophelia Is Possibly One Of The Most Fascinating Characters In Shakespeare's Plays And Has Been The Cause Of Much Debate Amongst Students Of Hamlet, Despite Appearing In Only A Few Scenes. Explore Some Of The Interpretations Of Her Functions.

Extracts from this document...


Hamlet Coursework "Ophelia Is Possibly One Of The Most Fascinating Characters In Shakespeare's Plays And Has Been The Cause Of Much Debate Amongst Students Of Hamlet, Despite Appearing In Only A Few Scenes. Explore Some Of The Interpretations Of Her Function Within The Play." In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the character of Ophelia has many different functions and, as such, can be perceived in many ways. She is not a prominent character like that of Hamlet or King Claudius, but she does serve an important part of the tragedy. The obvious, and most controversial perception of Ophelia is to whether she is a sweet natured, young, na�ve character or rather the opposite: "Ophelia is in fact a flirt: a fast girl such as at Elizabeth's court was the rule..." From an extensive study of the play and particularly of Ophelia, I have concluded that although Shakespeare's work should be interpreted on a personal level, I believe that Ophelia was the former, rather than the latter. Firstly, it must be remembered that Shakespeare designed Ophelia to be young; in her late teens. "Ophelia is plainly quite young and inexperienced." The notion of such a young character possessing the qualities to show no candour or be a "fast girl" is absurd and should be discarded immediately. ...read more.


"I do not know, my lord, what I should think." If her innocence were to be doubted. Then there should be evidence here that she would know what to do and how to treat Hamlet to take her advantage. However she does not, she follows her fathers advice and obeys him. Proving her naivety. It is clear also, that Hamlet's romantic intentions towards Ophelia that occur in the play, and not previous to it, are simply to ensure he has convinced the court of Denmark that he is mad. Proof of this further is at Ophelia's funeral. Here, Laertes and Hamlet exchange words over their love for Ophelia. While I believe that Laertes words are genuine as Ophelia is his sister, Hamlet's words serve no purpose but an attempt to out do Laertes in their rivalry. "I lov'd Ophelia: forty thousand brothers Could not, with all their quantity of love Make my sum up." This attempt to out do Laertes by using the death of Ophelia allows Shakespeare to add to the controversy of whether love was shared between Ophelia and Hamlet. The addition of this romance to the plot allowed Shakespeare to add a further level of controversy to Hamlet and Ophelia's madness. ...read more.


Her isolation from other people also gives reason for her madness. With her father dead, and her brother Laertes abroad Ophelia has no family or friends around. This isolation in a young person would have had a detrimental effect on her mind. This gives proof of her young innocence. For if she was designed to be an older character, she would have coped better with her fathers death and would be able to cope better being on her own. But as Shakespeare proved by her madness, she is meant to be young and she is meant to be innocent and na�ve. In conclusion, Ophelia's many functions of romance, adding tragedy, her metaphorical representation of Denmark and her use by Polonius and King Claudius to spy on Hamlet all reflect on her sweet nature and naivety. Her sweet natured and naivety is destroyed by her downfall into madness. For if Ophelia was meant to be deceitful and underhand then surely these events would not have led to her death? It is clear that the deception in the Court of Denmark led to her madness and death. This would not have been the case if she was herself deceptive and a "fast girl". As such, her sweetness, naivety and young nature is established, with her downfall adding greatly to the tragedy that is Hamlet. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. The Dramatic Function of Ophelia in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.

    but in contrast her brother's violence explodes outward- they enact the alternative responses to the power of grief. Ophelia reveals much about Polonius, whom it is important that the audience have an understanding of. She exposes his inconsiderate nature and disrespect for others, perhaps lessening the audience's readiness to sympathise with him upon his death.

  2. A study of madness in Hamlet.

    Queen Gertrude "What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me? Help, help, ho!" Even at the point where true insanity seems most likely, in Act 3, Scene 4 his actions are still directed to his main purpose, the revenge of his father.

  1. Polonius is an interesting and complicated character who plays an important part in Hamlet. ...

    Polonius does not consider his daughter's feelings for Hamlet. He continues to warn her to conduct herself well so she does not make him appear a fool. He forbids her from seeing Hamlet for the wrong, selfish reasons. In this scene, Polonius's character displays a selfish nature where he only cares about his image.

  2. Hamlet - Character study of Ophelia.

    Shakespeare uses this device to indicate Ophelia's lower status and how she is obedient to people of a higher rank. In the same scene Shakespeare again uses interaction with other characters to portray Ophelia's character. In the play Shakespeare shows the audience that Hamlet is deeply disturbed by the events

  1. A Study of Shakespeare's presentation of Ophelia and the effect on her, of her ...

    dismissive attitude he has when it comes to how she feels about Hamlet. Laertes takes a similar approach to his father. To Laertes Ophelia is a virtuous and fragile being. He quickly teaches her the real intentions of men, "Fear it Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister."

  2. How does Shakespeare explore the nature of evil in the play, 'Hamlet'?

    The continuous use of this sort of vivid and revolting imagery gives a feeling that the world is sick and disgusting and the audience would therefore make the audience realise the fact that evil causes corruption and sickness in the world.

  1. Compare different possible readings of the characters of Gertrude and Ophelia. What impact would ...

    The relationship with between them is one of the defining points of the debate over Ophelia being weak (or not). This is particularly the case when considering the issue of her refusal of hamlet's advances. When portrayed as weak, Ophelia is often visibly scared of hamlet when he is in the depths of his apparent madness.

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    The solution is in the divine medium of the Christian doctrine of expiation:- not what you have done, but what you must determine. Ib. Hamlet's speech:- "Now might I do it, pat, now he is praying: And now I'll do it:- And so he goes to heaven: And so am I revenged?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work