Even though Ophelia is not the central character in the play 'Hamlet', she is still an important one. Since Shakespeare wrote the play in the early 1600s, depending on the theatrical performances and director's view, audience's and critics' interpretations of Ophelia have changed dramatically throughout the past 400 years.
Shakespeare, in the portrayal of Ophelia shows how men in a strong patriarchal society controlled women in the 1600s. The influence of men in Ophelia's life is
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and their worth over women themselves.
'For most critics of Shakespeare, Ophelia has been an insignificant minor character in the play, touching in her weakness and madness but chiefly interesting, of course in what she tells us of Hamlet.' Unlike Hamlet in the play, Ophelia does not struggle with moral choices; Lee Edwards another feminist critic concludes that:
'We can imagine Hamlet's story without Ophelia, but Ophelia literally has no story without Hamlet.'