Hamlet

Whore or Pure?

Most of the attention in William Shakespeare's Hamlet is directed toward the play's namesake the Prince of Denmark or at the least King Claudius, the villainous uncle who murdered his brother and seduced his wife. Critics and readers alike contemplate the inner workings of Hamlet's mind, yet don't devote as much thought to the dull, seemingly one-dimensional character of Ophelia. She is defined by her relationships with other individuals: the daughter of a noble courtier, the lover of the Prince who murders her father, and the sister of a brother with somewhat powerful political status. A young female confined by habit and custom to a fairly subservient role, she doesn't spark much interest at first and seems to act simply as a basic plot device. However, the author had more extensive plans in mind for this character; Shakespeare utilizes Ophelia to illustrate the dual nature of women in Hamlet's eyes.

Throughout the play, Hamlet holds a distorted view of women as heartless sexual fiends who can at times display virtue and innocence. He considers them almost to be instinctual animals with uncontrollable behavior extremes, instead of sensitive human beings whose actions might wobble back and forth...

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