Why Does Ophelia Go Mad

Why has Ophelia gone mad? How might this be proven?

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Ophelia is torn between two competing impulses. On the one hand, she is loyal to her father. Polonius doesn't want Ophelia to have anything to do with Hamlet; he thinks that Hamlet doesn't really respect her and just looks at her as an object of lust. In common with most fathers of the time Polonius puts his daughter on a pedestal, idealizing her as a pure, unsullied virgin whose honor and integrity must be defended against all threats. Hamlet is one such threat.

At the same time, Ophelia is deeply romantic, and feels genuine love for Hamlet. She is torn in two by the dictates of filial piety and reasons of the heart. A naive, unstable creature, Ophelia lacks the maturity and strength of character to be able to reconcile these two conflicting imperatives. She has found herself caught between the social demands of the medieval world with its insistence on a woman's purity and the developing Renaissance concept of romantic love as expressed in countless poems...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 566 words.)

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