Ophelia’s madness is the tragic breakdown of a total innocent. I support this claim because circumstances outside of her control contributed to her
breakdown (and change in character). In the play, Hamlet says “I did love you once” and Ophelia responds “Indeed my lord, you made me believe so”
(act 3 scene 1). Since Hamlet doesn’t love Ophelia but pretends to, that’s part of the reason she loses her innocence – it’s difficult to deal with Hamlet’s
aggression and lies. Before her tragic downfall, she was innocent and ignorant, but now she feels deceived, especially since she cannot predict Hamlet’s
actions. She trusted Hamlet and he completely let her down after murdering Polonius. Her father’s death is a big reason why she couldn’t stay sane. As
expected, her reaction is madness and she’s no longer an innocent character after witnessing this tragic event.
[Argument] Ophelia never really got the chance to truly express herself during the time she was
alive. Constant societal pressure and taboos caused her to feel closed off and hold everything
inside. After her father, Polonius, died, her inner desire to express her feelings came out. For
example, she gave imaginary flowers to different people in the play. She gave rosemary and
pansies to Laetes, her brother. Ophelia says that the rosemary are “for rememberance… And there
is pansies, that’s for thoughts” (188-190). She is able to understand her feelings, and by passing
out these imaginary flowers, this is how she was finally able to express parts of her identity, after
being repressed for so long (previous to when Polonius died). Earlier in the play, she seemed to
have a completely different personality. When Hamlet yelled and abused her, she didn’t react
much. However, now she expresses herself more freely. Her “madness” is therefore the results of
her repression due to many societal pressures and taboos.
Write 6-8 sentences countering this argument using textual evidence from Hamlet. You can
agree with some parts but counter the rest.
Also respond to the questions about why Ophelia is such an enduringly compelling
character (6-8 sentences). What is it about her person, her situation, her reaction, her fate, that
causes people (like the book Reviving Ophelia, the movie Hamlet 2, the netflix series Ophelia,
and the satire video for “Somebody That I Used to Know”) to return to her and keep thinking