800-PLAYTIX (752-9849) Login


By Isabel Smith-Bernstein

Ophelia has been the subject of interest for centuries. Her charm, intelligence, and mysterious death have sparked many harsh debates and lengthy conversations. She is Hamlet’s close friend and lover, but Shakespeare gives them few scenes together.

Ophelia is Hamlet’s equal and ally. She matches him in intelligence, need for authenticity, and powerful love. But unlike Hamlet, Ophelia is utterly trapped within Elsinore. She cannot leave and she knows this. When Hamlet tells her to get to a nunnery, he is telling her to leave to save herself. But she can’t leave because “Denmark is a prison” for young women like her who must remain under the rule of her father.  

Ophelia being trapped is what sets her apart from Shakespeare’s other heroines. Ophelia’s love for Hamlet is as great as Juliet’s, her intelligence as great as Rosalind’s, her wit that of Viola’s. Yet she has no Friar on her side, no Arden to flee to, no shipwreck to free her. Instead she is isolated in Elsinore with Hamlet as her only ally. When Hamlet is taken from her, she is utterly alone.

Utah Shakespeare Festival
Welcome to the Utah Shakespeare Festival. We hope you enjoy this Study Guide, but while you’re here you may want to explore the Festival a bit further. You can learn about this Tony Award-winning theatre, our plays, and so much more by visiting our home page.

What's On

The Taming of the Shrew

June 19 - September 7, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

Henry VIII

June 17 - September 5, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

Much Ado About Nothing

June 21 - October 5, 2024

Randall L. Jones Theatre

The Mountaintop

July 13 - October 5, 2024

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

The 39 Steps

June 22 - October 5, 2024

Randall L. Jones Theatre

The Winter's Tale

June 18 - September 6, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

Silent Sky

July 12 - October 5, 2024

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

© Utah Shakespeare Festival 2023 www.bard.org Cedar City, Utah