Ophelia in Hamlet is generally considered a very simple character who exemplifies the perfect young, innocent woman. However, her importance to the play shows that there is more to her than most people think Ophelia is a substantial character in the play whose flaw is her vulnerability to being manipulated by others. With this flaw, Ophelia becomes a tool that allows Shakespeare to connect the two parallel plots of the play, Hamlet's and Polonius', as well as set the actions of the play into motion. Polonius and Claudius use Ophelia's weakness to facilitate their testing of Hamlet. Hamlet, on the other hand, manipulates Ophelia to conceal his true intentions from Polonius and the court. Ophelia's vulnerability enables the two plots of the play to coexist. Ophelia's death marks the point in the play where the two plots come together. Ophelia's vulnerability makes her a key character because it allows the parallel progression of the two plots, thus driving the actions of the play's overall plot.
Being so easily swayed, Ophelia complies with her brother and father when they both tell her to stop her relationship with Hamlet. It is at this point that Ophelia becomes the intermediary between the two plots of the play. Polonius' plot tries to determine the purpose behind Hamlet's actions, and Hamlet's plot attempts to use madness as a shield for Hamlet to accomplish his revenge for his father's murder. Polonius and Claudius manipulate Ophelia to do what they want her to do in order to prove that she is the cause of Hamlet's madness. "Her father and myself We'll bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,/We may of their encounter frankly judge,/And gather by him, as he is behav'd,/If't be th'affliction of his love or no/That thus he suffers for" (III.i.32-36).