Significance/ Role

  • Noblewomen of Denmark
  • Daughter of Polonius
  • Sister of Laertes
  • Hamlet’s love

Character Traits and General Facts

  • Ophelia demonstrates purity, the innocence and virtue of women
  • She is childlike and naïve in nature
  • She is unaware of the harsh realities of life
  • Although she truly loves Hamlet, she is very loyal and obedient to her brother and father and avoids Hamlet upon their orders
    • “No, my good lord, but, as you did command, I did repel his letters, and denied access to me” (II.2.107-109).
    • She defends Hamlet and loves him, despite his brutality
    • She is incapable of defending herself, and through her timid responses, it is evident that she is suffering inside
      • “I do not know, my lord, what I should think” (I. 3. 104).
      • This quote describes how Polonius easily manipulates Ophelia and it is evident that Polonius brings his daughter up under his control
      • She is unable to cope with the unfolding of one traumatic event after another and as a result she becomes insane after hearing about her father’s death and eventually drowns

Her Relationship in Accordance With Other Characters

  • Through Ophelia, we witness Hamlet’s evolution and de-evolution into a man that has a firm belief that all women are ignorant and deceitful
    • “I have heard of your paintings well enough; God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, you nickname God’s creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance” (III. 1. 144-148).
    • Polonius makes arrangements to use the alluring Ophelia to discover why Hamlet is acting mad
      • “Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you, we will bestow ourselves. Read on this book, that show of such an exercise may colour your loneliness” (III. 1. 43-46).
      • Hamlet causes all her emotional pain throughout the play
      • Laertes and Polonius both warn Ophelia about Hamlet and forbid her to come near his presence as they think he is just using her for his sexual pleasure
        • Laertes and Polonius are both so ignorant of Ophelia’s true feelings towards Hamlet
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


  1. I would wish you’d specify the information as you did for your Gertrude character analysis instead of using bullet points

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