Does Ophelia kill herself?

It is not entirely clear whether or not Ophelia intended to kill herself. It seems her fall into the brook is accidental, but she does not fight drowning after she falls in. Ophelia's erratic mental state further complicates matters, as it's hard to say whether she was in full control of herself when she died.

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Ophelia's death happens offstage and is only reported to the audience through Gertrude. The exact nature of Ophelia's death is left ambiguous, though suicide is strongly suggested.

We do know that Ophelia has suffered through a series of horrific circumstances just before her death. In a short span...

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Ophelia's death happens offstage and is only reported to the audience through Gertrude. The exact nature of Ophelia's death is left ambiguous, though suicide is strongly suggested.

We do know that Ophelia has suffered through a series of horrific circumstances just before her death. In a short span of time, she is cruelly abandoned by Hamlet, her love interest, and experiences the death of her father, Polonius. Her grief over her father's death is compounded by the fact that his murderer is Hamlet. whom Ophelia believed loved her just days before. Throughout the play, Ophelia is used as a pawn by the men in her life: her father forces her to spy on Hamlet, and Hamlet plays cruelly with her emotions to make everyone believe that he has gone mad. Emotionally isolated and without anywhere to turn, Ophelia is ultimately driven to madness.

According to Gertrude, Ophelia's death was at least partially due to an accident:

There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like a while they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and induced
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death (4.7.168–179).

To summarize, Ophelia fell into the water because the branch she was sitting on broke. Instead of calling out for help, however, Ophelia passively allowed the water to weigh her down. She made no effort to save herself, instead singing bits of "old lauds," or hymns while her clothes become water-logged and pulled her to her death. Thus, there is evidence that Ophelia committed suicide in the sense that she refused to save herself.

The questionable nature of Ophelia's death is highlighted during her funeral scenes in act 5, when the priest upsets her brother by refusing to perform the full and complete burial ceremony. The controversy over Ophelia's funeral rites suggest that her death is believed to be a suicide, as proper Christian burial was not afforded to those who took their own lives.

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