OpheliaIn Shakespeare’s tragedies, the characters all have flaws that eventually lead totheir undoing. In the play Hamlet, the character of Ophelia is ultimately killed by her flaw. It is apparent that Ophelia is an obedient person but, upon closer inspection, the audiencecan see that she is not merely obedient. Ophelia’s thoughts and actions go beyondobedience to show that she is a weak and entirely dependent character. Nothing that shesays or does is a representation of herself but mostly that of her father.
Ophelia’s cruel actions towards Hamlet, which go against her feelings for him,demonstrate her obedience to her father. In the beginning of the play, Ophelia tells herfather that she likes Hamlet but her later actions sacrifice these personal feelings under theorder of her father. She does as her father says regardless of how it could affect her ownlife. In particular, Ophelia agrees not to see Hamlet anymore after the request from herfather: “I shall obey, my lord.Order now
. . “(act 1, scene 4). Ophelia’s actions show that Polonius hascomplete control over her because she sacrifices her personal feelings to please him. Ophelia’s obedience goes deeper than her trying to please her father and showswhat a weak character she is.
When Hamlet harasses her and tells her to go to a nunnerywhere she can no longer harm anyone, she does not try to defend herself. Instead, she justfeels sorry for herself. Ophelia could not survive without someone constantly telling herwhat to do. Hence, when Polonius dies, Ophelia loses her primary guidance and, insteadof attempting to go on with her own life, she calls on her brother for help in resolving herproblems: “My brother shall know of it / and so I thank you for your good counsel. .
. ” (act4, scene 5). Ophelia’s obedience and weakness as a character can be traced to her completedependence on other people. Her dependence on others is evident in the very beginning:”I do not know, my lord, what I should think. POL: Marry, I will teach you.
Thinkyourself a baby. . . ” (act 1, scene 3). This shows how Ophelia depends on her father todetermine what she should think and feel. Ophelia’s complete dependence, or lack ofindependence, is what leads to her demise.
Still, Ophelia’s dependence on others was notentirely her fault. It could have been caused by her father and brother’s protection overher. Polonius and Laertes were always there for Ophelia, whether she needed it or not,causing her to develop a major character flaw. Her flaw was her complete dependence onothers, which can also be shown through her obedience and overall weakness as acharacter.
Ophelia’s dependence on others is, sadly, what lead to her death. She could notcope with the events in her life because she was so adapted to being told how to think andact that she went mad. When she was forced to take care of herself, she could not handleit and ended up committing suicide to keep from facing her problems alone.