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Kit A.

Nadado English 382 Response Paper to Shakespeares Hamlet There is none more tragic in Shakespeares characters than that of Ophelia. Ophelia seems to be an unfortunate pawn in the conflict, swayed and controlled by the male characters in the play. Ophelias thoughts and actions are controlled by the two male powers in her family: her father Polonius and her brother Laertes. Ophelia does not truly decide for herself in the play. Her actions are constantly directed and manipulated by her brother and fathers will. Both Laertes and Polonius employ strategies that invoke depressing emotions to Ophelia. These depressing emotions lead to Ophelias vulnerability against Laertes and Polonius manipulation. By invoking depressing emotions such as fear and self-doubt, Polonius and Laertes manipulates Ophelias thoughts and actions to match their will. Laertes manipulates Ophelia by asserting authority and invoking fear in his advice. Laertes, upon his farewell talk with Ophelia expressed a manipulative warning to his sisters relationship with Hamlet. Before his spiel about preserving morality, Laertes begins with Think no more (1.3.12), a phrase that sounds more like an authoritative edict than an affectionate warning to Ophelia. This phrase commands Ophelia to think no more, suggesting that her thinking and opinions are no longer significant in this matter while Laertess opinions are. Laertes then goes on with his morality spiel in succeeding lines mapping and defining every detail in Ophelias course of action. Laertes marks his speech with the warning, Fear it Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister (1.3.33) and ends it with best safety lies in fear (1.3.43). Laertes cleverly uses the word fear to invoke dread as well as fear itself as a tool to manipulate Ophelia. Ophelia may have recognized this manipulation and for some degree hinted against her brothers hypocrisy; nevertheless, she recognized Laertes authority and simply complied with his brothers good lesson (1.3.45). Ophelias response suggests Laertes success in his control of Ophelias thoughts and action. Laertes spiel, from beginning to end, is manipulative and inconsiderate of Ophelias opinions and will. By invoking fear, Laertes succeeds. Similarly, Polonius exercise a manipulative influence on Ophelias thoughts and actions by invoking selfdoubt. Polonius deems his daughter too innocent and unable to think for herself. Upon Ophelias disclosure of her private meetings with Hamlet, Polonius repeatedly impressed upon Ophelia her inability to think. Polonius calls Ophelia a green girl (1.3.102), suggesting her naivet with the matters of love and adds, You do not understand yourself so clearly (1.3.97). Polonius statements invoke uncertainty and self-doubt to the already doubting Ophelia. These statements are meant to make Ophelia mistrust her own judgments, trusting instead the judgments of Polonius. Polonius succeeded in his purpose as he makes the confused Ophelia ask, I do not know, my Lord, what I should think. (1.3.105). Ophelias statement depicts her surrender to the wiser authority: her father. Polonius sees this surrender and exploits this weakness of will by saying, Think yourself a baby (1.3.106). Polonius statement suggests that Ophelia should be as a child to be taught, agreeing to everything he directs. In other words, Polonius wants Ophelia to be a child that he can control and manipulate. By invoking self-doubt, Polonius succeeds in asserting his will to Ophelia. Ophelias role throughout the play appears to be a mere puppet whose main purpose is to be a follower, subjected to her father and brothers will. Ophelia acts not on her free will but on the will imposed to her by her family. Laertes and Polonius ways of manipulation appears to be unorthodox for a close family member. These ways of manipulation makes Ophelias tragedy more tragic and her death more dramatic. Her death may also depict a liberty from the manipulative wiles of her family as well as the society.

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