This essay is more abstract than the average character analysis, it probably wouldn't fly in most classrooms. But I wrote this for an Advanced Placement Language and Composition class and that of course was what the prof was looking for, the language; it has its good points.
"O rose of May! Sweet Ophelia!" As Sweet Ophelia indeed she is; a mere wisp of a girl, an apparition, a reflection, a waif, a dream, a dream, a dream. Poof! And then gone. "How now, Ophelia?" Her role is tenuous enough, the troubled Hamlet's starry love interest, who, upon discovering his rejection spawned of false madness (and his murder of her father), goes quite insane and drowns herself.
There is more to this role, of course, as there so often is. Such questions and questions: was lovely Ophelia Hamlet's divine inspiration? His muse? His one true love? Sources point to (no) yes.
But was she, in fact, so impossibly feeble that at the mere hint of a rebuff would go mad at the pansies and throw herself into the babbling stream? Why, of course not.
For much of the Hamlet, when we see Ophelia, we also see another male character who attempts and more often succeeds at changing her most precious of self-interests and mannerisms. Controlling her every mood. Whether it be Hamlet, or Laertes, or Polonius; Ophelia is most often seen as the submissive and obedient female, serving to play up the over-powering character traits of the largely pivotal male players. Even at her death, her essential everything, Hamlet, comes out on top, "I loved Ophelia; forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love, make up my sum!" One weighs his action against his words and finds in them, very little worth. Even...