In the play, Ophelia ran to her father, Polonius, and exclaimed, "O, my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!" (Shakespeare 43) This quote reveals Ophelia's feelings of fear toward Hamlet's strange behavior. This fear contemplates the beginning of her insanity.
Thesis: In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses the characterization of Ophelia to reveal that love can lead to insanity.
When Ophelia's father asked the if the reason behind Hamlet's strange behavior was forbidden love, she responds, "My lord, I do not know/ But truly I do fear it." (Shakespeare 43) This declaration shows how afraid and shaken Ophelia feels.
Before the Mouse Trap was about to begin, in a soliloquy Ophelia clamors, "Blasted with ecstasy. O woe is me/ To have seen what I Have see, see what I see!" (Shakespeare 65) This quote demonstrates Ophelia's pitiful feelings toward Hamlet's odd behavior. She feels confused and pity for herself. She has seen Hamlet's unmatched and blooming kindness fall apart by madness.
King Claudius and Polonius had set up an experiment to find the causes of Hamlet's strange behavior and actions. After it develops, Ophelia is left petrified. Polonius comforts Ophelia and declares, "But yet do I believe/ The origin and commencement of his grief Sprung from neglected love." (Shakespeare 66) In his statement, Polonius claims to know the reason why Hamlet is acting strange. He believes the main cause is because of the unrequited love that he forced Ophelia to give to Hamlet.
After the death of Polonius, Ophelia started to behave crazy. Everyone in the kingdom recognizes her bizarre actions. A gentleman addresses, ¨She is importunate, indeed distract. Her mood will needs be pitied.¨ (Shakespeare 94) This quote implies that Ophelia has gone mad because of her father's death. She has gone crazy because her father was killed whom she thought loved her dearly. (Hamlet) In this scene, the queen did not want Ophelia but the gentleman mentioned that Ophelia had crazed enough to inspire pity.
As Ophelia has gone mad, she sings, ¨How should I your true love know from another one?¨ (Shakespeare 94) This phrase notes a key reference to Ophelia's actions. This quote can be lead to Ophelia's confusion about Hamlet's behavior toward her. She often wondered if Hamlet really loved her or not. She feels somewhat betrayed by Hamlet and his actions that led to the murder of Polonius.
As Ophelia continued to sing, she says,¨Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's Day, all in the morning...To be your Valentine...never departed more.¨ (Shakespeare 95) This quote displays Ophelia's long lost love toward Hamlet. This links to Ophelia waiting for Hamlet to come back to her because she is currently alone. This statement indicates the she lost her "love." Since she is to be categorized as a "widow," this could mess with who sense of social identity. (Ophelia lost her true identity and is no longer the sweet and obedient girl.)
As Ophelia walked into the room where Laertes is, he observed her condition and claims, ¨Nature is fine in love, and where ´tis fine, it sends some precious instance of itself after the thing it loves. (Shakespeare 99) This statement how Ophelia felt after her father's death. Laertes had stated that human nature is made spiritual by love. It gives itself to the one it loves. Ophelia had given all her love to Hamlet initially but when he killed Polonius, her feelings changed and her sanity was given to her father, whom she loved. She was obedient and did everything her father asked her to do. As she did everything he asked her, it started messing with her feelings toward Hamlet. All of her common sense died along with her father's death. She had lost both two people whom she had loved-- Polonius (by death) and Hamlet (by exile).
Ophelia began to sing again. She chanted, ¨O, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, that stole his master´s daughter.¨ (Shakespeare 99) This quote shows how Ophelia was feeling about how Hamlet "stole" her from her father. She makes a reference of how she felt that Hamlet was like a false person who stole his boss' daughter.
While observing Ophelia's mad behavior, Laertes claims, ¨A document in madness! Thoughts and remembrance fitted.¨ (Shakespeare 99) In this quote, Laertes acknowledges the the methods behind her insanity. The "Document in Madness" indicates the time where Ophelia and Hamlet were true to themselves. They were filled with thoughts of love for each other. Hamlet had to fulfill his father's commandment and promise to "remember." Once Hamlet started to act strange, Ophelia tried to not face Hamlet's actions. Her thoughts and actions were supplanted by Polonius'. Hamlet not returning his promised love to Ophelia caused her to corrupt in confusion and madness. With this thought, Laertes granted that thoughts and remembrance were fitted into a "document in madness."
While Claudius and Laertes were discussing and plotting Hamlet's murder, Gertrude walks in and announces, ¨One woe doth tread upon another's heel, so fast they follow. Your sister's drown'd, Laertes.¨ (Shakespeare 106) This whole section reveals the death (suicide) of Ophelia. They predicted that Ophelia could not handle the losses of Hamlet and Polonius. She gives herself to insanity. She felt that insanity was better than facing what occurred. The news of her father's death shocked her but knowing that her "love" had killed him caused her to corrupt into madness. Eventually, this madness halts refuging Ophelia from her mental pain and ends up killing herself thinking it was the solution to her agony.