Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

MA English




Chrysanthy Greico


William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Plays, Ophelia (character)


Thesis: I will argue that Ophelia could have saved her own life if she had left home and fled to a nunnery; the treatment she received from Laertes and Polonius was worse than Hamlet's treatment of her throughout the play and especially in Act 3 .1. Through thorough research, the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, is explored. This thesis specifically focuses on the character of Ophelia and Ophelia's relationships with Hamlet, Laertes, and Polonius. Through the examination of Ophelia, with a literature review of Ophelia's reputation amongst scholars, the argument is made that Hamlet's treatment of Ophelia is one of love and kindness during the nunnery scene, while her father and brother's treatment of her is harsh and cruel. The suggestion is made that Ophelia had entered a nunnery as Hamlet instructed her to do, she would have fulfilled the longing she had for a mother, as well as have opportunities in leadership in education; this is something women lacked during this time. An examination of her relationship with Polonius and Laertes will culminate with an inspection of the relationship between Ophelia and Laertes, using the feminist theory employed by Virginia Woolf in Shakespeare's Sister, from A Room of One's Own, as well as other Feminist critics such as Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. This thesis also employs the methods of Performance Theory. After further discussion, it is concluded that the best option for both Ophelia and Gertrude during this time would have been to enter a nunnery, and that Ophelia did in fact end up like the character of Judith, as described by Virginia Woolf.