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Does Ophelia go to Heaven or Hell?

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Traditional catholic religion thinking would suggest that Ophelia would go to hell because she committed suicide. According to catholic doctrine, anyone who will take his or her own life cannot go to Heaven because taking one’s life is only a prerogative of the one who gave it which is God. Ophelia’s case however is more complex than it just cannot be simplistically ruled that just because she committed suicide, she will automatically go to hell. The factors that surrounded why she committed suicide must first be considered before judging her to go to hell.

Ophelia did not commit suicide in her right mind. She has gone mad because of the abuses done to her by other character in Hamlet. One of the major blow to her sanity that made her commit suicide. She was asked to bed Hamlet for the promise of marriage and when he did not, she was obviously distraught and made it a topic of her frustration that drove her to madness. This was evident with her litany when she is having her fit saying;

Young men will do’t, if they come to’t,
By Cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she
‘Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.’
(IV.v.59–62)

In addition, the Claudius also exploited her that no character in the story seemed to care for Ophelia. She was consumed with grief until she has gone mad. When she got mad, her judgment is already impaired because she is no longer sane.

Ophelia’s death is also a little shady whether she really did commit suicide or accidentally died. In Act 4 Scene 7, Queen Gertrude Ophelia climbed a willow tree and the branch broke where she fell into the brook. Conveniently, she forgot to save herself and drowned until she died. But whatever the manner of her death, she was not in her right mind when she died.

Thus to fully answer the question whether Ophelia will go heaven or hell, my answer would be to go to heaven and yes, that is even assuming that Ophelia is a Christian, catholic or other sect. It is because Christian belief is grounded in love and not on unfair and simplistic judgment such as automatically assigning a person to hell if she commits suicide. What if she was mad and that she just forgot to save herself? Jesus Christ, the center of Christian faith preached that those who suffered in this lifetime, those who were trampled upon, treated unjustly will find redemption in His Kingdom. And there is no better example of a person who is treated unjustly and abused other than the character of Ophelia and therefore, she should go to Heaven to find relief to all her miseries when she was still alive.

If there are characters that should go to hell in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it would not be Ophelia but rather Claudius who murdered his brother just to get the throne. Possibly, it could also include the young Hamlet who is full of hatred to avenge his father that it consumed his entire life and abused Ophelia that it drove her into madness.

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