Ophelia has been known as “the good daughter.” She does whatever is asked of her by any male figure in her life. In the list of characters found in the lay she is simply listed the “daughter of Polonius.” This implies that she is a minor character who still “belongs” to her father. Amanda Mabillard believes that it is out of love that Ophelia obeys her father’s and brother’s every desire (Mabillard, “Ophelia”).
However, many believe that it is not out of “love” that prompts her obedience, but fear. When Laertes tells Ophelia to distrust Hamlet, she willingly obeys him and gives him the authority over her heart. In many of the exchanges between herself and her father, she simply responds with, “I will obey.” For instance, in act 2 scene 1, Polonius asks Ophelia if he had denied contact with Hamlet and Ophelia tells him, “…but as you command , I did repel his letters.”
In Act 3 scene 1 Ophelia is spying on Hamlet at her father’s insistence. We are lead to believe that she truly does love Hamlet but cannot refuse her father, so she betrays her love to spy on him. When Hamlet discovers that Ophelia’s father is listening he calls Polonius a “fishmonger,” which means a pimp. With the same token, Hamlet is calling Ophelia a prostitute that is being used by her father. Hamlet is not very far off on this assertion. However, you must also remember that because of the actions of his mother, he believes all women to be harlots and has lost faith in the female. Again, in act 3 scene 1 Hamlet states:
If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go, farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too. Farewell.