22 October, 2021

LitStaff Pick: Characters Who Didn't Get What They Deserved

Ophelia
Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Ophelia … poor Ophelia. Daughter to a meddling micromanager, sister to an ambitious brother with eyes only for his own future in France, darling Ophelia is led astray by her love for an angry prince hellbent on revenge. Many argue that Hamlet was crazy, after losing his father at the hands of his conniving, murderous uncle, but I don’t agree. I think Hamlet was just really pissed off, as one might be after losing a parent and then learning the scandalous truth about said parent’s untimely end. But that does not excuse Hamlet’s abysmal treatment of Ophelia. She truly did love him, and the way he toyed with her, stringing her along when she was hopelessly head over heels, killing her nosy father, well, it led to a pathetic display of her vocal abilities — some song about flowers — and finally, her drowning. In my version of Hamlet, Ophelia would smarten up, wash her hands of that boy, and wait for the rugged stud Prince Fortinbras of Norway to ask her for coffee. I mean, if he’s not going to overthrow Denmark, he might as well treat the poor girl to dinner, right? She’s had a rough go of it.

-Jennifer Sommersby Young

3 thoughts on “LitStaff Pick: Characters Who Didn't Get What They Deserved

  1. Jason, good essay, but Moby's a sperm whale, not a killer whale, and if anyone's a bastard, it's that cold soul Ahab. (It's not for nothin' that I bought a Moby Dick sweatshirt to celebrate the whale.) I beg you to reconsider.

  2. Entertaining. I assumed the anti-whale bit about Moby Dick was meant to be parodic. My nomination for character who doesn't get what she deserves (by which I mean I think she's treated quite unfairly by the author/narrative): Mary Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice." The nerdy sister who doesn't have the other sisters' wit or beauty or social acumen, she's openly ridiculed by her family & ends up single & having to care for her tiresome & mismatched parents as they age. Every time I read the book, I pity this character.

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