How Is Ophelia Viewed By Men

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Ophelia is a beautiful woman who is at the mercy of the male figures in her life – mainly her father, Polonius and her brother Laertes. Laertes and Polonius love Ophelia tremendously and feel it is their obligation to shelter her from the cruelty of the world. When Polonius is told that Ophelia has entertained Hamlet without any parental consent, it is stifled very quickly by Polonius and Laertes – the double voices of patriarchy – telling her that she is too naive and that her behavior is unsuitable. In Act I, Scene III he begins his dialogue with Ophelia by warning her of the potential danger that love with Hamlet (Ophelia’s lover) could bring. He feels it his obligation to protect her form a potential broken heart: “The canker galls the infants of the spring Too oft before their buttons be disclosed,” (I, III, 39-40) implying that Hamlet, as the canker, may ruin her before she ‘blossoms’. He does see her as an innocent girl but thinks that without his help she may become corrupt: “The chariest maid is prodigal enough, If she unmask her beauty to the moon,” (I, III, 36-37). Ophelia, agreeing with her innocent nature, willingly agrees to his advice saying, “I shall th’effect of this good lesson keep,” (I, III, 45). Polonius sees Ophelia as a mere object; telling her to be careful of her relationship with Hamlet as people may, “tender [him] as a fool,” (I, III, 109). From this single statement we can infer that Polonius cares more for his own credibility than the happiness for his daughter; he values his judgement of Hamlet over the love Ophelia may have for Hamlet. He sees her as a dim-witted woman, even degrades her, comparing her to a woodcock (a dumb bird) who can easily get caught in a springe (trap) in the following phrase, “Ay springs to catch woodcocks,” (I, III, 115). He constantly under merits her and tells her to think of herself as a ‘baby’ and listen to

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