Ophelia's Madness Explained

1537 words 7 pages
Ophelia’s Madness Explained

Joan Montgomery Byles’s view of Ophelia’s behavior in “Ophelia’s Desperation” and Sandra K. Fischer’s view of Ophelia’s behavior in “Ophelia’s Mad Speeches” contradict each other and present opposing explanations. Byles’s view is that Ophelia is defined by the male roles in her life (i.e. her father, brother, and lover). Fischer’s view is that Ophelia is simply grieving the loss of her father and fails to break the hold of the men in her life. These two analyses present opposing explanations because one author is saying that Ophelia simply cracked because she has lost her father and she just could not handle it and the other is stating that Ophelia went mad and committed suicide because she was tired of
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And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, With almost all the holy vows of heaven.” Ophelia is trying desperately to make a case that Hamlet is not as bad as he seems and Polonius then has this long speech about how Hamlet’s advances are not true and that he is too young to clearly know what he wants. “Ophelia, Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers; Not of that dye which their investments show, But mere implorators of unholy suits…” Polonius is basically saying that Ophelia should not believe Hamlet because his words are unholy and should not be taken seriously. Ophelia’s response to her father telling her to stay away from the man she loves is, “I shall obey, my lord.” (Act I, scene IV, line 135). This is the point where it is very clear that even though Ophelia loves Hamlet and in her head wishes that he would propose and marry her and she wants to see the good in him, she is not going to disobey her father’s orders. Another example of Ophelia’s fear of the men around her is when Hamlet corners her in her closet. “O, my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!” (Act II, scene I, line 74) Ophelia then explains what happened to her father and Polonius’s reaction is “Mad for they love?” (Act II, scene I, line 83) Ophelia knows exactly why Hamlet has gone off the deep end about wanting her to be with him. Polonius asks her if she has done anything to set him off and she tells him that she


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