Money for Nothing, Chicks for FreePolonius looks at Ophelia's potential relationship with Hamlet as a bad investment; both he and Laertes cite the disparity between Hamlet and Ophelia's...

Money for Nothing, Chicks for Free

Polonius looks at Ophelia's potential relationship with Hamlet as a bad investment; both he and Laertes cite the disparity between Hamlet and Ophelia's socio-economic status as making the match untenable. How effective do you think Ophelia is in arguing for Hamlet's love, given the societal prejudices against uneven matches?

3 Answers | Add Yours

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I don't think Ophelia is at all effective in arguing for Hamlet's love. She tries to tell her father that he's been honorable to her and "hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, with almost all the holy vows of heaven," (1.3), but Polonius disregards everything she says, claiming that Hamlet is merely telling her what she wants to hear so he can get what he wants from her. Ophelia's response? "I shall obey, my lord."

I'm not meaning that Ophelia should have or could have done something different. I'm merely saying that she was not an effective arguer (is that a word?) when it came to standing up to Polonius.

I wonder what Ophelia would have been like if she had had a mother or an older sister to help her out?

You've got to wonder if Shakespeare, like Walt Disney, had a problem with mothers, don't you?  Juliet's mother, distant and cold.  Miranda, Tempest, no Mom.  I'm sure there are others, though these 3 are the only ones that come to mind at the moment.

Anybody want to offer some background on Shakespeare's lack of mothers or loving mothers?

Excellent point - Jessica in "The Merchant of Venice" stole the ring her mother, Leah, had given to her father, Shylock; Lady Macbeth saying she would rather dash her own children's brains in than see Macbeth turn weak and not murder Duncan; Gertrude being more wrapped up in her romance with Claudius than in caring what was happening to Hamlet (and what happened to her first husband)...Where's Cordelia's mom in "King Lear"?

Again, things that make you go "Hmmm..."! :)

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I don't think Ophelia is at all effective in arguing for Hamlet's love. She tries to tell her father that he's been honorable to her and "hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, with almost all the holy vows of heaven," (1.3), but Polonius disregards everything she says, claiming that Hamlet is merely telling her what she wants to hear so he can get what he wants from her. Ophelia's response? "I shall obey, my lord."

I'm not meaning that Ophelia should have or could have done something different. I'm merely saying that she was not an effective arguer (is that a word?) when it came to standing up to Polonius.

I wonder what Ophelia would have been like if she had had a mother or an older sister to help her out?

You've got to wonder if Shakespeare, like Walt Disney, had a problem with mothers, don't you?  Juliet's mother, distant and cold.  Miranda, Tempest, no Mom.  I'm sure there are others, though these 3 are the only ones that come to mind at the moment.

Anybody want to offer some background on Shakespeare's lack of mothers or loving mothers?

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I don't think Ophelia is at all effective in arguing for Hamlet's love. She tries to tell her father that he's been honorable to her and "hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, with almost all the holy vows of heaven," (1.3), but Polonius disregards everything she says, claiming that Hamlet is merely telling her what she wants to hear so he can get what he wants from her. Ophelia's response? "I shall obey, my lord."

I'm not meaning that Ophelia should have or could have done something different. I'm merely saying that she was not an effective arguer (is that a word?) when it came to standing up to Polonius.

I wonder what Ophelia would have been like if she had had a mother or an older sister to help her out?

We’ve answered 318,916 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question