Ophelia's ChastityDo Laertes and Polonius have legitimate reason to be concerned for Ophelia's virtue? 

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clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

LOL to #4, I love it! :) I was chatting with my husband about some of these topics and he made a similar comment about "hell hath no fury . . ."

I do think Ophelia had a duty to protect her virtue in times like these so her brother and father had every reason to be concerned. I'm not so sure that Laertes' concern was entirely for his sister as much as his not wanting Hamlet to have one more thing and he certainly saw his fading attention from his father as a result of their budding romance. If she were to marry him then Polonius' attention would certainly be paid where he could be most noticed by the king. Polonius wanted Ophelia to be chaste, he didn't want her to give herself to Ophelia without a commitment from Hamlet, without the commitment they couldn't seal their place in palace. Frankly, Polonius thought that Hamlet was out of Ophelia's league so he certainly didn't want her to ruin her chances with someone else.

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Probably from the standpoint of men during Shakespeare's time they did. It was quite alright for men to go gallavanting about, having multiple sexual partners, but have a woman try to do that? HA! That sure wasn't going to be allowed. For Ophelia to make a good match (a profitable one from Polonius' point of view), she needed to be chaste. If she gave herself to Hamlet, then Hamlet rejected her, and word got around that she had gone to bed with Hamlet, Polonius would have been shamed and would have been hard-pressed to find a husband for Ophelia.

It would be nice to think they were concerned for her simply because they loved her. I'm not sure that the text demonstrates that. Possibly Laertes more than Polonius, but nonetheless, Ophelia was still just a girl and one being controlled by the males in her family.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the standpoint of men in Shakespeare's time?  How about from the standpoint of men anytime!?  It's STILL a double standard for men to play around and be called "stud".  Women who do the same (even though it is much more accepted today) are still called unbecoming names.



malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My sincere apologies to all of the Y chromosomes out there! :)  I should always end my posts with "Present company excluded, of course!" :)

mrerick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This whole last run of topics and posts has made it very dangerous to wander around this message board with my Y chromosome!  YIKES!  :-)