simply a virgin or a villain. As a virgin, Ophelia is a poor wretch manipulated by her father to serve his political ends; otherwise, she is a schemer manipulating the good prince in hopes of gaining a crown herself. Ophelias death is likewise at a remove from her character, given meaning by everyone but Ophelia herself. To read her as either sinner or saint without acknowledgment of the true girl behind these interpretations is to erase her from the play or place her firmly in the shadow of the surrounding male characters. This eradication of her autonomy begins just before the nunnery scene, during Hamlets to be or not to be soliloquy. Hamlet to create a thousand interpretations of the text, and yet in the case of Ophelia they seem to lack imagination, always casting her either as the pinnacle of innocence or as a figure of cunning sin. If youre studying classic literature, I strongly recommend giving them a watch!). While the wanton Ophelia is represented onstage with innuendo, her maiden counterpart is infantilized and beautified, as exhibited most clearly by Laertes himself with the words, Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself, / She turns to favor and to prettiness (IV. But with the new dawn of the Tudors and the Renaissance era power became increasingly centralised, and suddenly the way to power changed. Some critics choose to read Ophelia not as an innocent virgin but as a conniving harlot, allowing her wit and measured autonomy, but none of the sweetness attributed to a virginal reading of her character. She makes it clear to the audience that she does not live in any kind of deluded, feminine ignorance, with a belief in all things goodness, sweetness, flowers and sunshine.
My first issue with the general portrayal of Ophelia is that she i s typically.
She isn t afraid to point out these injustices, and question them.
The Most Beautified Ophelia: The Duality of Femininity
It could well be argued that like Hamlet, the only way she can truly express what she believes is to portray herself as mad. Ophelia finally speaks out against those who have used her for their own gain, only to have her audience botch the words up to fit their own thoughts (IV. "Her nature invites us to pity her misfortune caused not by any of her own self-initiated deeds or strategies Lidz 138). Laertes and Claudius both use her madness to support their plot against Hamlet, which, had it succeeded, would have allowed Claudius to remain in power and given Laertes high status in the court, perhaps his late fathers position. Yet, such is Ophelias devastation at the loss of her father and the loss of her lover (who also killed her father#awks) that she apparently descends into madness herself. By Hamlet's very warnings of what woman are capable of and three times telling Ophelia to go to a "nunnery he shows how even he did not want her purity tainted, her innocence corrupted as he must have concluded was already by her part. These traditions include productions that include a wildly euphemistic Mad Ophelia (harkening back to a promiscuous reading of her character) or an erratic, sobbing Ophelia too overcome with emotion to take part in thought. Evoking the antiquated (though modern in Shakespeares time) meaning of marriage as sexual union as proof that Ophelia is not a virgin, critics claim that Hamlet urges Ophelia to a nunnery that is less than holy, using the word as a cant term for. Hamlet, as usual, is stuck in the middle. And that is the end of the conversation. This would make sense as Hamlet killed Polonius- perhaps that was the moment in her mind when the vibrant and glorious violet withered and died in her good opinion- the moment she lost her affectionate Renaissance prince forever to the claws of the very madness. It is only once she is mad that Ophelia finds the ability to speak out against the injustices done to her and to those around her.
This simple change in staging carries tremendous weight in changing the meaning of the play and the role of Ophelia. Hamlet tells nobody of his encounter with his fathers ghost, and so Ophelias choosing of this flower for Claudius must be based upon her own scepticism about him- which, anyone listening to his perfectly balanced, subtle language and his reaction during the scene with the.