\The Corruptibility of Innocence in Hamlet
Innocence is often seen as a one-dimensional virtue but it is infinitely more complex; it can be feigned or it can be the defining virtue in one's life. The main female characters in the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet are both innocent but to different “degrees”. Gertrude deludes herself into thinking that she is innocent; that she has no real choice in the proceedings of her life. She justifies her selfish immoral deeds by creating a cloak of blamelessness and remains intentionally oblivious to the litany of excess and violence in the world around her. She is only out for self-preservation; happiness is the only thing she will accept. Ophelia is the inverse as she is the pinnacle of innocence in the Victorian era, she is seen as sexually innocent and loyal to only her family. Unfortunately this blind loyalty leads to her tragic death as her sheltered lifestyle leaves her unprepared for the repeated traumatic events in her life. Unable to cope with loss of her cornerstone in life, she descends into insanity. The main point of contrast for these two characters is that Gertrude is the source of manipulation while Ophelia is the the one being manipulated. The woman are both portrayed similarly as they are both hyperbolic; they portray the extremes that are seen in the personality of women although they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The characters of Gertrude and Ophelia serve similar purposes, they are both attractive and royal women who are often the driving force behind Hamlet's actions.
Ophelia is a naive woman who makes decisions based more off of the influence of others than her own personal opinions and desires. She is seen as this chaste, innocent and angelic individual by her father and brother. Polonius fears that Hamlet will strip her of this innocence; he warns her “Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain if with too credent ear you list his songs, or lose your heart, or your chaste...