Character Study Speech of Ophelia in Hamlet

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Who is Ophelia? Ophelia is the daughter of the Denmark court advisor, Polonius. She lost her mother possibly in childbirth and aside from Gertrude, is the only female appearing in the Danish court setting a pretext for isolation. Hamlet and herself are deeply in love, although their union is not looked upon favourably by her father or brother, Laertes. Ophelia is an obedient and seemingly naive girl, who often gets used by others to better their own situation, leading to her essentially being defined by others. Many unfortunate events including an awful break up with Hamlet and the death of her father have accumulated during the course of the play. These cause Ophelia to finally lose her mind and it is in this state that she appears in act four scene five. In the first half of the scene, Ophelia enters as insane and Gertrude only permits to see her because her madness could attract undesirable inquiry into the goings on at Elsinore. Claudius and Gertrude are sung and spoken to in a blunt fashion by Ophelia, who speaks of chaos, death and women being used by men. The king and Queen attempt to exchange words with her but she replies only along her own line of conversation, not responding directly to them. She leaves thanking Claudius and Gertrude for their good counsel, which deepens her isolation, as aside from instructing Gertrude to mark her, Ophelia is essentially only conversing or reminiscing with herself. In the second part of the scene Ophelia re-renters upon Claudius, Gertrude and Laertes. She is once again singing of her fathers death and is oblivious to Laertes’ grief over her mental state. She begins to hand out flowers to each person, each of the flowers/herbs is thought to have been for specific purposes. She gives Laertes rosemary (rememberance), Claudius fennel (flattery) and columbines (ingratitude and infidelity), Gertrude receives rue

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