Ophelia's Suicide Analysis

Words: 1252
Pages: 6

Suicide is a complex action and often times it is hard to determine the root of self-termination. This complexity is demonstrated in William Shakespeare's, Hamlet. Many of the characters in this play fight an internal battle with suicide, most notably Ophelia, the once beautiful and delicate daughter of Polonius. The basis of her character is built upon her relationships men and without them she would have been reduced to a meager background character. Her personal demise is credited to a mentally abusive relationship with her significant other, Hamlet, the death of her father, and an all around unhealthy emotional dependence upon her male counterparts. The first event to spark Ophelia’s alleged suicide was the collapse of her illicit …show more content…
She lived in a male dominated world and like all other women living in this time period, including Gertrude, Ophelia was expected to act under their command. She was perpetually ordered around by her father and brother, and was practically Hamlet’s emotional puppet. A prime example of this was when Laertes and Polonius learned of Ophelia and Hamlet’s love affair. Laertes warned his sister, telling her that Hamlet's affection is short lived and pleads with her not to give in to his seduction. Naturally, Ophelia felt torn between her own needs and the advice of her brother but this only worsened when Polonius gave her similar advice. He scolded Ophelia, “Affection! Pooh, you speak like a green girl, Unsifted in such perilous circumstance” (I.III.101-102), telling her that she was acting like a foolish little girl for believing Hamlets promises of love. He then ordered Ophelia to distance herself from Hamlet and like a trained dog, she obeyed. This of course was not what Ophelia wanted but in a world where patriarchy is the forefront of social regimes, she knew no better than to listen. Hamlet shaming Ophelia for partaking in sinful acts with no one other than himself was also to blame for her suicide. She was accustomed to believing what a man said, so in turn when Hamlet essentially called her a whore, she internalized his criticism and took it out on herself. All in all, Ophelia was weighted down by the demands and opinions of men and lacked the power to be her own person. This lead her to live a life controlled by people such as Hamlet, Polonius, and Laertes, however once they were ripped away from her, she was left scared, not knowing how to carry on living without the direction of