Ophelia is just one of the 2 female personalities in William Shakespeare’s’ play Hamlet. She is shown as a young noblewomale of Denmark, and also potential wife of Prince Hamlet. She is also the daughter of Polonius and also sister of Laertes.

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The death of Ophelia is doubted due to different accounts about the scenarios of her fatality. Her fatality can be either interpreted as an accident or self-destruction. In this article, we’ll answer to the question ‘exactly how does Ophelia die in Hamlet’ by looking at these varying accounts and also analyzing the scenarios regarding her death.

How Does Ophelia Die in Hamlet

Ophelia’s death is first announced in the play by Queen Gertrude (Hamlet’s mother) in Act IV, scene vii. This death announcement is considered to be among the most poetic death announcements in literature. According to Gertrude, Ophelia had actually climbed right into a willow tree, and also then a branch had damaged and also dropped her right into the water, wright here she drowned.

“Tbelow is a willow grows aslant a brook

That reflects his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.

There with excellent garlands did she come

Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and also long purples,

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,

But our cold maids perform “dead men’s fingers” call them.

There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds

Clambering to hang, an envious sliver damaged,

When down her weedy trophies and also herself

Fell in the weeping brook. Her apparel spreview wide,

And mermaid-prefer a while they bore her up,

Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds

As one incapable of her own ditension,

Or favor a creature native and indued

Unto that facet. But long it can not be

Till that her apparel, hefty via their drink,

Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay

To muddy death.”

Although this is defined as an accident, phrases such as “incapable of her own distress” means that she made no effort to save herself. It is likewise possible that Gertrude is offering this poetic and peaceful description of fatality only to reduce the grief of Ophelia’s brother. Gertrude’s description is likewise questionable given that no one experienced the actual drowning.


However, the priest’s word in Act V, scene I indicates that Ophelia has actually committed self-destruction. He is reluctant to provide Ophelia a proper Christian funeral since he thinks that it would certainly insult the dead. This suggests that she has actually taken her very own life.

“Her obsequies have actually been as far enlarged

As we have actually warranty. Her death was hesitant,

And, yet that good command also o’ersways the order,

She have to in ground unsanctified have lodged

Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers

Shards, flints and also pebbles need to be thrown on her.

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Yet right here she is permitted her virgin crants,

Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home

Of bell and also funeral.”

Hence, there are two views on Ophelia’s death. According to Gertrude’s account, it seems to be an accident, but it likewise implies that Ophelia made no attempt to save herself from drowning. In the following scene, the priest that performs the funeral routine suggests that she may have actually taken her very own life. However, the mystery bordering Ophelia’s fatality renders this occurrence more poetic and also tragic.

Image Courtesy:

“Millais – Ophelia (detail)” By John Everett Millais – (Public Domain) using Commons Wikimedia