“A Comparison and Contrast Paper between Ophelia in Hamlet and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet”
Before we discuss the differences and characteristics between Ophelia in “Hamlet” and Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet, we must have first an overview of how these two stories in the plays came about and who wrote these. Long before, some people in ancient times were very poetic; they can be able to write interesting and “ordinary” love stories that can be acted out in plays but yet these stories draw the attention of the audiences, and readers at the same time, because of how the writers wrote it and made the story itself as one of a kind in plot and characters- people still enjoy these stories up to the present.
These writers made remarkable love stories which do not only give us enjoyment but also give us the chance to ponder of what are the lessons that we could possibly get from them. Two of the extraordinary and amazing plays in the past and are still presently enjoyed by people around the globe were the “Hamlet”, one of the characters was named Ophelia and was thought to be “adored” by Hamlet, and the other one is the story of “Romeo and Juliet”, which one of the main characters was Juliet . These two plays were the masterpieces of William Shakespeare and have shown of two pictures of people that were so in love with each other and willingly conquer the challenges and hindrances that came to their relationship in order to be with their love of their lives while the other one was all about revenge and ended up tragically because their love for their “love ones” had gone to the limits and had led them to death. “Hamlet” was Shakespeare’s one of the best-known and most excerpted plays.
The interest of this play was not solely revolved in the love of Hamlet towards Ophelia but mostly revolve on Prince Hamlet’s retaliation-whose father died unexpectedly while Hamlet was away from his home. While the “Romeo and Juliet” was a kind of a story about passion and love between two young hearts and took their lives because of miscommunication. This was considered, too, to be the most popular and tragic love story in Western history and the most well-known plays of Shakespeare. This play has just an “ordinary” plot but Shakespeare was able to write it incredibly and skillfully.
Juliet and Ophelia had the same fate in love but different lifestyle because Juliet grew up in a much respected family in Verona while Ophelia belonged in a family that had an inferior complex. These two faced death due to their “love” bestowed to those people who were close to their hearts. Juliet and Ophelia had experienced the “you and I against the world” thing because the people surrounded them, their families, showed intense opposition for the said relationships. The purpose for this study is to compare and contrast the experiences and characteristics of two well-known characters, Juliet and Ophelia, in the stories written by William Shakespeare of how they face challenges and danger in the name of love.
*Ophelia*What does Ophelia possessed which captured the heart of Hamlet? This thought came to my mind and try to figure it out.Ophelia is the daughter of Polonius. She has a brother named Laertes- who intensely took care and attended to her needs. She grew up in a family that had a connection with the king because her father, Polonius, worked to King Claudius as chief councilor and her father was not in favored with Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet.
Ophelia’s father warned her that it would be politically inadvisable and inappropriate to marry Hamlet for he was the son of the king and queen.1 And Ophelia agreed to submit “Hamlet”. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. July 22, 2006.
Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamletand do as she was told by his father and brother to stay away from Hamlet. When Hamlet started to plan to kill his step-dad for revenge in killing his father, he acted out as insane.
And when he appeared to Ophelia, Ophelia was very scared and terrified by disrupted and bedraggled Hamlet-who may possibly came to bid goodbye. Because of the said incident, Ophelia was forced by Polonius and King Claudius to examine the root caused whether the insanity of Hamlet was related to Ophelia’s released for him.2 When the two met, Hamlet continued to act out his insanity thing and Ophelia was depressed. After the said incident, King Claudius reckoned and presumed that there must be another grounds for the madness of Hamlet.
Ophelia was so humiliated by Hamlet when they tend to watch a theatrical performance which Hamlet perceived that it will attest to Claudius guilt in the murder of his father. After the public humiliation experienced by Ophelia and upon realizing that Hamlet had murdered her father, she became insane. It led her to misbehave before the court. Eventually, Ophelia took her own life by drowning herself as harvesting flower in the riverbank.
3According to an article written by Amanda Mabillard, she stated that “in the story of “Hamlet” and of all the essential and significant main characters, Ophelia was described as the most motionless. She has the possibility to turn into a tragic heroine who was able to surpass the challenges and testing perpetrated to her by smashing herself into craziness. This showed and presented that Ophelia was not significant and her unique intent was to express Hamlet’s distorted point of view of women as heartless sexual slayer and the “Ophelia in Hamlet” morality and incorruptibility of women. Because of Ophelia, we were able to observed the evolution or de-evolution of Hamlet into a man perceiving that every woman is a whore- believing that each woman who looks pure and decent inside is the woman who is corrupted inside and has many sexual desires.
Kay Stanton gave her views which regards to this issue. She said:“Perhaps it may be granted that what makes a woman a whore in the Hamlets’ estimation is her sexual use by not one man but by more than one man what seems to enrage [Hamlet] in the ‘nunnery’ interlude is that Ophelia has put her sense of love and duty for another man above her sense of love and duty for him, just as Gertrude put her sense of love and duty for her new husband above her sense of love and duty for her old. Gertrude chose a brother over a dead Hamlet; Ophelia chooses a father over a living Hamlet: both choices can be read as additionally sexually perverse in being, to Hamlet, ‘incestuous’. (Stanton, New Essays on Hamlet 168-9).”5In spite of those beliefs, I believe that Ophelia was a very good daughter.
A daughter that was willing to sacrifice her love in order to obey his father and brother, in short, a family –oriented person. Truly, she dearly loved Hamlet and leaving the man of her life was a hard thing to do, but yet she chose to follow her father and brother even it was a sacrifice in her part. Even her mom died when she was still young, she was still able to get admirable traits such as being innocent and childlike young lady having a pure heart Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare’s Ophelia.
Shakespeare Online. 2000. (July 24,2006) < http://www.shakespeare-online.
com/opheliachar.html >.5 Ibid…because she continued to love Hamlet in spite of what he did to her father. When her father died, she was truly distressed and became crazy.
She died not because of Hamlet but because of the death of her father.*Juliet*On “Lammas Eve at night”, a beautiful baby was born named Juliet. Juliet has a very different life with Ophelia because Juliet grew up having a father and a mother. Her father and mother headed in Verona as Lord and Lady Capulet.
Juliet was there first-born and eventually has other siblings. But later on, she was the only one survived to live among of her other siblings. And for this reason, Juliet became the only beneficiary to the Capulets. At the age of fourteen, Juliet was a bashful-type-girl.
She established and upheld her submission and insufficient expertise in this world; presenting herself as innocent and naïve in many ways and continued to show her dependency to her parents and nurse. Juliet was not given a second thought for marriage but she did want to do what her mother asked. As time passed by, it was about time for Juliet to enter into marriage and marry an influential and wealthy man, just like what her mother did. Juliet’s mother marry at an early age, that was why when Juliet entered at the age as same as her mother got married, she was inclined by her mother to do it, too.
6 The County Paris was a bit of an onlooker, unknowingly and innocently confused in the drama between the families. Maybe, he and Juliet had never get together or come across as the story revealed. The only intent of this man was Juliet’s social position and her family’s wealth. Because of this, he politely asked “Juliet Capulet” the hands of Juliet to marry him and immediately bear a child as soon as they get married.
Moreover, Juliet was not ready to settle-down and become a wife. And even the father of Juliet has noticed it because he was reminded by this scenario about Juliet’s mother, who married at an early age. He thought that they would be happier if they will wait more years and be matured. He asked Paris to give Juliet a time to grow in all areas of her life before settling-down as husband and wife.
But then, as Juliet met Romeo, Juliet’s mind became fickle-minded on the matter. The presence of Romeo brought changed upon her life and made her mature in a short span of time.7 Indeed, Romeo was her inspiration. It was not only Juliet who was madly in love with Romeo but Romeo as well.
When we make a comparison of what Romeo felt between Juliet and Rosaline, the woman adored by Romeo in the past, his actions with regard to Juliet and her family and his attitude as a whole showed a level of great maturity. Juliet is a witty and intelligent woman. There are times that she was able to mislead others without the intention of lying. There was one incident that she met Paris at the chamber of the Friar and Paris suggested her kiss to tide her while waiting for their wedding but Juliet told him that she will definitely not marry him if it is not yet clear to the audience.
Juliet was more grounded and imaginative compared with Romeo because when Romeo was lost in his poetry, Juliet could bring Romeo back to reality.8In addition, because of Juliet’s love to Romeo, she agreed to marry Romeo without the knowledge of her parents and family. And when the time that the Capulet “Juliet Capulet” decided to pursue the wedding of Paris and Juliet, requested his wife to make Juliet conscious of Paris love for her, Juliet was in great distress when she learned about the news because she was already secretly married to Romeo.
Juliet had tried her best to go against with the wishes of her father but then, she failed to do so. She decided to execute suicide if his father won’t grant her appeal. And the day came when Paris announced that the wedding day will be on Thursday. Due to this, Juliet had come to a conclusion that she will drink friar Laurence’s potion and showed no opposition to her father’s plan.
This action brought delight to the heart of Capulet and because of this, instead of having the wedding on the Thursday; it was changed and moved to Wednesday morning. Juliet had the chance to sleep by herself and had a chance to take the potion in private. When the nurse woke her up for the arrival of Paris, Juliet did not wake up anymore and the wedding became into funeral service.9 When Romeo learned all about this, he decided to go to Verona even it will risk his life as long as he can have a glimpse to his wife, Juliet.
Just like Juliet, Romeo also bought a poison from a local Apothecary. Prior to the incident, Juliet left a letter for Romeo and telling him that she is not dead and she will be awaken soon but the letter intended for Romeo did not reach to him. Paris grieved for Juliet and later on, Romeo arrived and he opened the coffin to glimpse his wife for the last time. Paris was angry and fought Romeo and through this, Paris’ life ended.
The Romeo took his poison. This scene showed the characteristic of Juliet of being tricky. She tried to deceive her family that she is dead in order to have the liberty to be with her husband, Romeo. But “Romeo and Juliet this plan she made brought pain in her heart because it caused the death of the love of her life which eventually motivated her to suicide by stabbing herself.10*Conclusion*Juliet and Ophelia are the kind of women who stood up in order to fight for their love, love for her father and brother as for Ophelia and love for Romeo as for Juliet. Compared to Juliet, Ophelia was a very submissive young lady and never stub the back of her father and brother.
She valued a lot the feelings of her family and sacrificed for what she felt towards Hamlet. But in the case of Juliet, her face showed a naïve appearance but very tricky and really made her own way just to follow the beat of her heart. She is a kind of a woman that fight for her man even if it involved her family.
References: 1. “Hamlet”.
- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. July 22, 2006.Http://en.wikipedia.
- org/wiki/Hamlet2. Ophelia in Hamlet”. www.ivcc.
- edu/radek/Gender_2000/Ophelia%20in%20Hamlet.ppt3. Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare’s Ophelia.
- Shakespeare Online. 2000. (July 24,2006) ;http://www.shakespeare-online.
- com/opheliachar.html ;.4. “Juliet Capulet”.
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juliet5.
- “Romeo and Juliet Summary” http://absoluteshakespeare.com/guides/romeo_and_juliet/summary/romeo_and_juliet_summary.htm;