Ophelia’s Road to Madness
Thesis Statement: The origin of Ophelia’s madness is rendered through examination of her relationships with her father Polonius, her brother, Laertes, and her lover Hamlet.
I. Polonius is self seeking and callous.
A. Polonius uses her to further his own agenda.
B. Ophelia obediently and dutifully refuses Hamlet at her father’s request.
II. Laertes overshadows Ophelia’s hope.
A. Laertes brotherly advice is demanding.
B. Ophelia loses her friend and confidant in her brother’s absence.
III. Ophelia goes from happy to devastated in her love life.
A. Hamlet humiliates her verbally.
B. Hamlet kills her father.
IV. Ophelia goes mad.
A. Betrayed by ...view middle of the document...
Polonius teams up with King Claudius and once again places demands on Ophelia which require her to disregard her own self to fulfill their wishes of deceiving Hamlet into revealing the cause of his erratic behavior. And once again, it is Ophelia’s duty to her father and this time to the king to be obedient. Disobedience to the king and his advisor are not an option. Polonius wants the king to look on him in good favor and he is willing to step on his daughter to get this admiration. He neglects Ophelia’s feelings by not even thinking of how his requests will affect her. He feels at liberty to request whatever he would like. He is purely worried about himself. Polonius holds a position of unquestioning authority over his daughter. He treats her as though she is not intelligent enough to make her own decisions and he knows that she will inherently obey him. To him her feelings are irrelevant and immature which he states when saying “Affection, puh, you speak like a green girl.”(1.3.101) Following her fathers instructions, she loses her lover and a piece of her happiness.
Laertes acts much like his father in taking a position of authority over Ophelia. He feels free to tell Ophelia what she has to do with her love life and expects she will oblige his demand. Like his father, he too tells her to break off her relationship with Hamlet. However, his reasoning is not selfish; he is worrying about her virginity, her reputation, and the possibility of Hamlet crushing her expectations. He is genuinely concerned for Ophelia. Laertes is her confidant and gives and receives advice openly with her. His character plays an affectionate and tender role in Ophelia’s life. It is upon leaving for France that he gives his last bit of brotherly advice to Ophelia regarding her life. Once he is in France, Ophelia no longer has a genuine support system in place or anyone in which she can confide or seek answers. This loss is an important element in Ophelia’s life, especially after the death of her father, because she has no one to turn to with her deep sorrow.
Hamlet generates emotional torture for...