January 22, 2010
Sweets to the Sweet
While a key part of the play, Ophelia provides the most unresolved mystery of any main character.
When we first meet Ophelia in Act one, her brother Laertes is lecturing her on staying chaste and of being wary around Hamlet, especially towards his advances and promises. Instead of nodding her head and simply agreeing with what her older brother is telling her she responds, “Do not, as some gracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven…and recks not his own rede.” (1.3.51-55).
Ophelia is not only articulate, but strong-willed and stands up for her beliefs. She calls out her brother for being a hypocrite, and shows that she will not allow herself to be pushed around. This scene also begins shows close Ophelia and Hamlet are in their relationship. While it is never expressed explicitly in the play, the consummation of the relationship is heavily hinted at, but never stated.
Hamlet’s defense of his love for Ophelia is something that really stood out in the play. Never before do we hear him vocally say that he loves her, as all of their scenes together are quite heartbreaking. We never hear him express his true feelings to Ophelia, and when he finally does, it is from within her grave. “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.” (5.1.284-286).
This shows that Hamlet really did feel for Ophelia, no matter what he might have said during the time that he was solely focused on completing his mission. He pushed her aside simply to be able to clear everything from his mind and focus on the task at hand- killing his uncle. Ophelia dies without having these words directly expressed at her throughout the play, and it begs the question of whether she was sure of his affections before she died, something that is never addressed.
... letter is the clearest proof of Hamlet’s love for Ophelia. At this point of the play Hamlet is able to express his true and honest feeling ... Laertes about his accusations that he never loved Ophelia. Hamlet responds by saying: “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of ...
With Hamlet gone after suddenly stabbing her father, Ophelia is truly a broken person. The girl has no mother, and her brother has left. With her father dead and the man she loves gone, she truly has no one left in her life. With the amount of isolation that must have occurred, on top of the shock, it is not ridiculous to assume that she committed suicide, and that her death wasn’t an accident. Though Laertes does return, the damage has already occurred, and there is no reversing it. But what’s even sadder is the fact that after her burial, there is no mention of Ophelia. Though the motive of Laertes lends itself to her death, his families honor and his fathers death seem to be more motive, and Ophelia’s suicide is treated as a casualty in a larger war.