How is Ophelia emotional in Shakespeare's Hamlet?

Expert Answers
Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Please keep in mind that the emotional intensity of Ophelia can depend greatly on the actor initiating the performance.  There are some clues in the text, however, that indicate Ophelia is an emotional character. 

Ophelia’s responses when she returns Hamlet’s “remembrances” are quite significant.  When Hamlet replies that he never gave her any love tokens, Ophelia’s emotional response is, “you know right well you did.”  Also, in that same scene, when Hamlet speaks of loving Ophelia in the past, she admits, “you made me believe so.”  Both of these are emotional responses to Hamlet’s verbal abuse in this scene as is the following exclamation:  “Heavenly powers, restore him!”

It is also important not to neglect the scene where the mentally disturbed Ophelia appears giving out plants and herbs to her loved ones.  Here she says things to different characters that indicate emotion such as, “wear your rue with a difference.”  Perhaps her most emotional response here is in regards to violets because they “withered all when my father died.”  Unfortunately, this is the last we hear from Ophelia.  The next time we see her is in the casket at her burial.  It is at this point that Gertrude talks about how Ophelia drowned in the river at the height of her mental instability.  Gertrude, herself, admits that Ophelia is emotional when she says the famous line, “Sweets to the sweet.”