Ophelia, a young noblewoman

Polonius' daughter, Laertes' sister, Hamlet's love interest

[This is an annotated list of all appearances and all mentions of Ophelia.]
Ophelia by John William Waterhouse

Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia

Ophelia and Laertes by Benjamin West

Ophelia by John Everett Millais

"My necessaries are embark'd: farewell: / And, sister . . . " (1.3.1-2) Laertes says goodbye to Ophelia and warns her against Hamlet; Polonius orders her to stop seeing Hamlet. Here, as in many other places, Ophelia is associated with flowers. Her brother tells her that "The canker galls the infants of the spring / Too often before their buttons [unopened flower buds] be disclosed [opened]" (1.3.39-40). He is telling her that she is like the flower bud, and Hamlet, or her relationship with him, is the canker. [Scene Summary]

"O my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted" (2.1.72). Ophelia tells Polonius of Hamlet's strange, silent visit to her closet. [Scene Summary]

"'To the celestial and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia'" (2.2.109-110). This is the beginning of Hamlet's love letter to Ophelia, which Polonius reads to the King, in order to help prove that Hamlet is mad for her love. [Scene Summary]

"Have you a daughter?" (2.2.182) Hamlet asks, as Polonius questions him to see just how crazy he is. Hamlet's mocking comments suggest that he knows that Polonius considers Ophelia weak enough to be seduced. [Scene Summary]

"'One fair daughter and no more, / The which he loved passing well'" (2.2.407-408). This is the beginning of a little tune that Hamlet sings at Polonius, mocking his supposed love for his daughter. [Scene Summary]

"I hope your virtues / Will bring him to his wonted way again" (3.1.39-40), says Gertrude to Ophelia, about Hamlet. This is the scene in which Polonius places Ophelia where Hamlet will find her, so that he--hiding behind a curtain with the King--can prove his theory that Hamlet is mad for love of Ophelia. [Scene Summary]

"No, good mother, here's metal more attractive" (3.2.109), says Hamlet when his mother invites him to sit by her to watch The Murder of Gonzago. The "metal" is Ophelia, and Hamlet makes a series of nasty jokes at her expense. [Scene Summary]

"Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?" (4.5.21) asks mad Ophelia as she comes in to speak to the Queen. In her madness, Ophelia sings songs about death, love, and loss. She leaves, then returns with flowers that seem to represent the people she gives them to. [Scene Summary]

Laertes describes Ophelia as one "Whose worth, if praises may go back again, / Stood challenger on mount of all the age / For her perfections" (4.7.27-29). The phrase "if praises may go back again" means that Laertes is speaking of her as she was before she went mad. This is the scene in which Laertes and the King plot Hamlet's death. At the end of the scene, the Queen enters with the news that "your sister's drown'd, Laertes" (4.7.164). Then, in a beautiful speech, she describes how Ophelia died. [Scene Summary]

"Is she to be buried in Christian burial that willfully seeks her own salvation?" (5.1.1-2), the First Clown asks his partner, as they are digging Ophelia's grave. Later in the scene Hamlet describes Ophelia's funeral procession as showing that "The corse they follow did with desperate hand / Fordo its own life" (5.1.220-221). Soon after that Hamlet quarrels with Laertes because he believes Laertes' grief for his sister to be melodramatic. [Scene Summary]