Who is Ophelia? An examination of the Objectification and Subjectivity of Shakespeare's Ophelia
Master of Arts (MA)
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William Shakespeare's Ophelia, from his tragedy play Hamlet, has predominately been perceived and depicted as an objectified female with very little purpose other than to support Hamlet's role as protagonist. I explore the ways in which Ophelia was objectified by her brother, father, and Hamlet. I also analyze how Ophelia not only exhibits subjectivity, that is the ability to think, act, and speak for herself, but plays the part of Shakespearean fool. In her interactions with Hamlet specifically, Ophelia addresses Hamlet first, raises questions of the prince, and conducts herself in a way that is not always in keeping with the tenets of proper female decorum, that is silent, chaste, obedient. Likewise, in her madness, Ophelia is an autonomous being showcasing her subjectivity by thinking, acting, and speaking of her own accord. Throughout his comedies and romances, Shakespeare's court fools convey truth and honesty in a way that the audience recognizes, but the characters in the play fail to realize. It is in her madness that Ophelia adopts this role of Shakespearean fool and in so doing, articulates the quagmire of female subjectivity in Elizabethan England.
Clowns in literature; Fools and jesters in literature; Hamlet; Objectification; Ophelia (Fictitious character); Shakespeare; William; 1564-1616; Subjectivity; Women in literature
Arts and Humanities | Literature in English, British Isles | Women's Studies
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Olivas, Tynelle Ann, "Who is Ophelia? An examination of the Objectification and Subjectivity of Shakespeare's Ophelia" (2015). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2403.
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