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The Tragedy of Ophelia A grieving widow is desolate. An African American slave is tortured. A concubine is mistreated. These three victims of circumstances that they could not control are pitied. So are there any foundations based on whether one should pity another? The Oxford Dictionary defines pity as the sorrow for another’s suffering or misfortune. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia rouses the pity of the audience because she is controlled, manipulated, abandoned, driven …

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…to her inevitable death. As a young woman, she was robbed of her innocence, as a submissive daughter, she was mistreated, and as one of Shakespeare’s most tragic characters, she was pitied. Ophelia was a tragic figure because she never lived a life of freedom. She never reached her highest potential as a person. Instead she dies without even a proper burial, is mourned by only a few, and is more or less forgotten.