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Ophelia

In: English and Literature

Submitted By destinygrace5
Words 484
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Ophelia strikes a powerful image in the feminist imagination. In Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, Ophelia tries to be an obedient daughter to her over-bearing father, a loyal sister to her protective brother, an affectionate sweetheart to her mad Prince and a dutiful courtier to her scheming King. Her world is dominated by the men she tries hard to please—to be what they need her to be with little thought for what she wants or who she is. The result of her adherence to everything patriarchy tells her to be is abandonment by her dear brother, betrayal of her regal lover who rejects her then murders her beloved father, and ultimately madness and suicide at the bottom of pretty river after singing some sweet folk songs.
Her father Polonius echoes these warnings, finally forcing Ophelia to swear she will not see Hamlet any longer. “These blazes, daughter,” says Polonius, “Giving more light than heat extinct in both, you must not take for fire.” What an eloquent way of expressing life with a Time Lord: all flash and fireworks but over far too soon. What a prophetic way of expressing Martha’s feelings as she takes the blaze of her admiration for fire, though the Doctor gives her more light than heat.
Despite the opposition of her family Martha, like Ophelia, does her best to do right by all the people in her life. Also like Ophelia, the effort of meeting these demands tears her apart. Nowhere is this more evident than in The Last of the Time Lords, but we see her strain earlier in the Human Nature/Family of Blood episodes.
The men in Ophelia’s life abandon her: Laertes leaves for France, Hamlet leaves for England and Polonius leaves for the after-life. Ophelia never realizes her lover mistakenly murdered her father—in fact, no one shares any facts about her father’s death with her. In Shakespeare’s tragedy this leads to Ophelia’s break with sanity and eventual suicide.
Like Hamlet, the Doctor escapes from his life in order to hide from an enemy. In Hamlet’s case it is a scheming family member, in the Doctor’s it is the scheming Family of Blood. Fortunately our Miss Jones is made of stronger stuff than Ophelia. When she is abandoned in 1913 with a Doctor who is literally out of his mind she makes a new life for herself rather than fall to pieces or into a river. She does all that is asked of her: keeps the Tardis safely secreted, stays close to the humaned Gallifreyan and maintains a cover identity until the time is right to give John Smith his watch back. But it is not an easy mission for her. She endures humiliation from the pampered school boys, looks on helplessly as John Smith falls in love with a human that isn’t her and finally takes on the Family of Blood single-handedly.

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