Ophelia Analysis

rosie scott
Mind Map by rosie scott, updated more than 1 year ago
rosie scott
Created by rosie scott over 5 years ago


Mind Map on Ophelia Analysis, created by rosie scott on 06/24/2016.

Resource summary

Ophelia Analysis
  1. Its difficult to analyse Shakespeare's female roles as they were always wrote for men and so the characterisations are limited. This may have prevented him from delving further into the character.
    1. She's stuck between two poles. Her brother and dad say she must protect her virginity (worth) . However she's convinced her and Hamlet are in love, though he denies it. Her family thinks she must be a virgin and a good mother. Hamlet thinks she's a sexual object and a deceitful lover. These contradictory pieces of advice is unfair as there is no mother there to speak from a woman's experience and guide her.
      1. Inside, her heart guides her to be loyal to Hamlet. Social times means her father governs her. She wants to live in both worlds and please both. When she lies to Hamlet about Polonius not spying on them, she decides her fate and her loyalty.
        1. If she was married then her husband would rule her. She has no right to her own body, decisions or relationships. Therefore cannot be blamed for her actions as she had no choice.
        2. She is forced into madness as she is unable to reconcile with either men so is forced to suffer with her decision alone while feeling guilt and regret.
          1. Hamlet is essentially abusive to her, denying his love to her and insulting her. She is clearly crushed by this but has no other choice but to deny the effect it has on her.
            1. Laertes has an input on her love life, warning her about sex and ensuring that she fears it. This method is cruel and is another way that women were defined by their sexuality.
              1. He talks graphically about her genitals and how she will become damaged goods if she has sex. He turns her into an erotic object while refusing her to be a sexual being. Its another example of how Ophelia is made to be related to flowers.
              2. Some of the flowers she gives out e.g. rue were used in ancient abortion potions.
                1. Her madness is a result of the patriarchal pressure and oppression she faces. She was forbidden to have sex. However it's possible that Hamlet convinced her that they were in love so encouraged her to do it for his own pleasure. This is irresponsible as he hasn't thought of the implications this has on a young woman. When he leaves her, she feels guilty and used for giving into her sexual desires as she has been taught that this is wrong. This crisis is too much and she goes mad.
                  1. Her death is described as being passive. Gertrude says her clothes pulled her down, as if they had a mind of her ow. Lie in life, she has not choice in death and its a separate force that decides her fate like Hamlet or her father in life
                    1. She is like a mermaid in death, feminine and sexual. There is no place for women in the court, they are not taken seriously.
                      1. If her death was a suicide then it's even more important as she wasn't allowed freedom over herself in life so she can make her own choice in death. Its reclaiming her ownership over herself. Its a powerful but empty move because now she is stuck in death. The suicide could be a result of her madness and not thinking straight so she got caught in despair. If it was an accident then it is a tragedy as she was innocent.
                      2. She was advised against marrying Hamlet as it wouldnt be beneficial for the family. If she has sex then she loses her value and her chances of marriage which is essentially life and death for young women then.
                        1. Poeple thought that mental illness made people physically ill. Ophelia describes Hamlet as being melancholy.
                          1. She is aware of the double standards in society and addresses these issues to Laertes as he advices her against sex but he is allowed to.
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