Ophelia’s Suicide

ELA 30.1

HamletAct IV- Ophelia’s Suicide


Ophelia’s suicide is indeed very tragic because basically, she was a two-sided pawn caught in the middle of, essentially, a real life chess game between Claudius/ Polonius and Hamlet. She was a two-sided pawn because she did not know which side she should stand for; on one side there was her lover, Hamlet, and the other her father, Polonius, who she also loved but respected to the fullest. Each of these sides contributed to the deepening of Ophelia’s madness, which ultimately, lead to her death, however her suicide did not come without some outside involvement.

Hamlet was a major factor in the suicide of Ophelia because he loved her so much and did not want her to come into harms way so he began to push her away as if he did not love her anymore and, for her to “get thee to a nunnery.”(III.i.121). He did this so he could do he had to do, for Claudius and Polonius may use her as a shield against Hamlet’s attacks. But because acts of rudeness and neglect towards Ophelia caused her to feel heart broken and begin her decent into madness for she is so in love with Hamlet and is seen in her soliloquy after Hamlet “told her off,” and now she believes, she has lost him. Unfortunately, this is the ironic part of Ophelia’s suicide since she died anyways, despite, Hamlet’s efforts made to keep her away from harm. Also the fact that Ophelia is so young can also be a factor. For Polonius, her own father, said that she should “think [of] [her]…self [as] a baby,”(I.iii.105) and that “[she] should tender [her]…self more dearly,”(I.iii.107) clearly showing that Ophelia could not handle all these things to happen at once. However the main reason that Ophelia committed suicide is the loss of her father.

The loss of Ophelia’s father put her in an “importunate,”(IV.v.2) state and all she does now, is “speak…of her father.”(IV.v.4) This clearly shows that Ophelia has lost all control of herself and, that she truly could not have prevented herself from falling into the creek. Moreover to prove her madness is when she is singing, for a sane person would not come into a room singing about one’s father who has just died. Though to truly prove that Ophelia had no control of herself is when she fell into the water. “She chanted of old tunes, as one incapable of her own distress,”(IV.vii.179-80) Ophelia had no clue that she was even in the water and was slowly sinking beneath the water to her death.

Ophelia suicide was not her fault; she had too many things to think about, too many decisions to make and too many orders obey. But for the most part the loss of her father did the most damage. Her father was like her candlelight thorough the dark, but it was blown out and all she could she had left was blackness and despair.