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Decorative tile showing another 18th-century actress, Jane Lessingham, in the role of Ophelia.

But the 19th-century Romantics, especially in France, embraced the madness and sexuality of Ophelia that the Augustans denied. In the mad scene, she entered in a long black veil, suggesting the standard imagery of female sexual mystery in the Gothic novel, with scattered bedlamish wisps of straw in her hair. Spreading the veil on the ground as she sang, she arranged flowers upon it in the shape of a cross, as if to make her father's grave, and mimed a burial, a piece of stage business which remained in vogue for the rest of the century.

Her performance was captured in a series of pictures by Delacroix which shows a strong romantic interest in the relation of female sexuality and insanity. The Romantic Ophelia feels too much, as Hamlet thinks too much; she drowns in a surfeit of feeling. While painting Ophelia —52 , John Everett Millais asked his model Elizabeth Siddal to lie for hours in a bathtub of water.

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Images and staged photographs of Ophelia-like mad women, taken in asylums and hospitals, anticipated the fascination with the erotic trance of the hysteric which would be studied by the Parisian neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and his student Sigmund Freud. The Victorian Ophelia — a young girl passionately and visibly driven to picturesque madness — became the dominant international acting style for the next years, from Helena Modjeska in Poland in , to the year-old Jean Simmons in the Laurence Olivier film of Usage terms Public Domain But a few Victorian actresses and women writers were revising Ophelia in feminist terms.

Ellen Terry played her as a victim of sexual intimidation. Around the s, Ophelia on stage became a graphic dramatic study of mental pathology, even schizophrenia, sucking her thumb, headbanging, even drooling. But at the same time, feminism offered a new perspective on Ophelia's madness as protest and rebellion.

For many feminist theorists, the madwoman was a heroine who rebels against gender stereotypes and the social order, at enormous cost. Queen Gertrude, denounced by the ghost as faithless to King Hamlet, is pictured as evil by many, while Ophelia is seen as pure and obedient and full of good virtues. Instead of changing through the course of the play, she remains suffering in the misfortunes perpetrated upon her. She falls into insanity and dies a tragic death. Ophelia has issues surviving without a male influence, and her downfall is when all the men in her life abandon her.

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In Elizabethan times, Ophelia is restricted as a woman. She is obedient to the commands of the men in her life although she often attempts to do the right thing. Polonius, Laertes, and Hamlet all have a grasp on Ophelia and who she is.


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She does not have the freedom to change her fate as Hamlet does. Hamlet knows that she is helping her dad, Polonius, spy on him. Hamlet orders Ophelia to a nunnery, but she cannot call him out on it because she is not supposed to know what the word means. This is not the only criticism that Hamlet calls out to Ophelia. He says that if Ophelia is to marry a man, she will turn her husband into a monster because she will cheat on him Shmoop Editorial Team 1.

Get thee to a nunnery, farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Since Ophelia has no woman influence in her life, Polonius is left as the dominant role in her life Brown 1. She is an obedient daughter and abides by the rules her father gives her with no protest. Ophelia is still too much under the influence of her father to question his wisdom or authority, and she has no mind of her own to understand how much she has made her lover suffer.

No matter how much it pained her to not see Hamlet, all she could see in his present behavior is the madness that terrified her.

Hamlet - Ophelia Character Analysis

Ophelia's insanity was a mixture of love and hate caused by her father and Hamlet. An example of hate is when she sings about a "baker's daughter" IV, v.

Shakespeare: Hamlet - Summary and Character Analysis of Claudius

Ophelia is referring to the way her father used to treat her before the tragic incident of his death. The love within her madness is when she speaks about the events on "Valentine's Day" IV, v. When Ophelia speaks about Valentines Day she is referring to the events of romance that she was denied.

Ophelia's madness is brought on by her lack of being able to demonstrate any maturity in trying to cope with her losses and in return can only inflict her madness on the court. Abused by her lover, and bereft of her father's protection she loses control of her mind. In her insane state she came to believe that the seduction her family tried so hard to protect her from has passed. Her father's admission of error might have embittered a more independent Ophelia.

This explains Hamlets rejection of her. Being tormented of scenes of death and the burial, she reaches out to the beauty of hanging flowers in a willow tree and somehow drowns.

The Analysis of the Character Ophelia on Hamlet Essay -- hamlet, william

Ophelia was never able to understand exactly what Hamlet was suffering from, and in a way he created a situation for her to relate; death of a father and betrayal by a loved one. Hamlet managed to rise above insanity and feelings of suicide, but her weaker spirit could not hold the burden. Hamlet Revenge. Was Hamlet Mad? Kevin Roach. Title: The Greatest Generation. Hamlet Vs. The Bacchae.