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While not a major protagonist or agent in the play, Ophelia is nonetheless a key figure in 'Hamlet'

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While not a major protagonist or agent in the play, Ophelia is nonetheless a key figure in 'Hamlet' Although Ophelia is not a main character in the revenge tragedy 'Hamlet' her dramatic purpose is vital to the play. It emphasizes the poisoned body politic and its affects on the innocent. The role of women in the sixteenth century is to be obedient and dutiful, the only way to accomplish this was to be passive. Women in the sixteenth century were meant to be obedient to their fathers, for they were their property until such a time came when she was married, it would then be her husband to whom her duties lied. Denmark is in a state of chaos shown by the opening death of the true King Hamlet who was murdered by his own brother Claudius, Claudius then seduced his brothers wife and took over the thrown of Denmark. Due to this chaos innocence, loyalties and love are corrupted and all that was good and dutiful falls into darkness under the ruling of evil. Ophelia is a women of the court her duty is to her father Polonius, and her brother Laertes. It is her fathers intentions to marry Ophelia off to a suitable and profitable match. ...read more.


Ophelia is now left with no-one to guide her in her rapidly changing life, her father is dead and her brother is away at university she no longer knows the difference between good and evil and is merely confused and lost in the world. Ophelia falls into madness and her appearance changes greatly, Franco Zeffirelli represented Ophelia's madness creatively through her appearance and movement in his film, Ophelia had greasy hair, no shoes and the dress she wore was a soiled pink, her eyes darted from side to side as though watching premonitions of what is yet to come from the midst of corruption which now controls Denmark. This shows how Ophelia has trapped and surrounded by corruption and disease alone, confused and without guidance, her innocence has pulled her gradually down throughout the play leading to her madness, this shows the affect on the innocent that a poisoned body politic has, it pulls them down constantly throughout a revenge tragedy into madness and great misery, just as Ophelia has. Ophelia is a measure of the evil corruption, what happens to her is not what she decides, it is what the world around her demands. Disease has spread through the state of Denmark through Claudius' reign as King, making the land around him tainted. ...read more.


Ophelia's death is not the end of her downward trajectory, Ophelia is then buried in unholy land, with no proper funeral, no proper farewell and buried amongst the lowest of status' this shows how truly corrupted the state of Denmark is, Ophelia was a women of the court and instead of being buried in her rightful grounds she was buried amongst the foulest dirt. Ophelia fell from an innocent young women of the court with a positive future into madness into a muddy death and into uneven, unholy mud. Her downward trajectory has pulled Ophelia down into the ground. Ophelia dies early in the play to measure the corruption, she is a catalyst for the revenge tragedy, for without her death we would not be able to understand to true corruption and evil that runs it course through Denmark like poison. Ophelia may not be a main character or agent in the play but her dramatic purpose is vital to the plays understanding and interpretation. To conclude Ophelia is vital to the play and its understanding even though she is not a protagonist, without her innocent and passive character it would be hard to understand the true destructive nature of the mislead court. 1312 Words exactly 1 Rebecca West " The Nature Of Will" in Hamlet : Norton critical edition p.230 2 Rebecca West " The Nature Of Will " in Hamlet: Norton critical edition p.231 Terri-Ann Sayle 6LRe ...read more.

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