In William Shakespeare's play, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, each character tends to stand out in different ways. Ophelia's character shows the reader that she is weak through the complete male dominance in her thoughts and actions. Ophelia's madness is a result of many factors: her inability to stand up for her self, Hamlet's cruel treatment, and the death of her father.
Ophelia is influenced and controlled by those around her. This is evident in Act I when Laertes tells her to be wary of Hamlet and his intentions. When he speaks with Ophelia he warns her "best safety lies in fear (1.3.43.) Ophelia responds to her brother by telling him she will keep his advice "as watchman to my heart (1.3.46.) In this scene Ophelia takes her brother's advice without an argument. When Polonius enters, he begins where Laertes left off. Polonius orders her not to see Hamlet any more, to which Ophelia responds, "I shall, obey my Lord [1.3.135.] It is evident in this scene that Laertes and Polonius command her to do things that she does not agree with, but she does them with no argument. Afraid to stand up for herself, she stands back and watches everyone else control her life. "Motherless and completely circumscribed by the men around her, Ophelia has been shaped to conform to external demands, to reflect others' desires (Dane). Here Dane suggests that Ophelia has no motherly influence and is controlled by the men in her life. She is molded to please others' wishes. Another instance of her being told what to do is when she agrees to speak with Hamlet. She returns all his gifts to help prove Polonius' suspicion that Hamlet is mad for Ophelia's love. It is obvious throughout the play that Ophelia is ordered around by Laertes and Polonius, and obeys them without a moment's thought. Polonius and Laertes act as t... Continue Reading