Ophelia is a fictional character in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. She is a young noblewoman of Denmark, the daughter of Polonius, sister of Laertes, and sweetheart of Prince Hamlet. possible historical source for Ophelia was Katherine Hamlet, a woman who fell into the Avon river and died in December 1579. Though it was eventually concluded that she had overbalanced while carrying some heavy pails, rumours that she was suffering from a broken heart were considered plausible enough for an inquest to be conducted into whether her death was a suicide. It is possible that Shakespeare - sixteen at the time of the death - recalled the romantic tragedy in his creation of the character of Ophelia. The name "Ophelia" itself was either uncommon or nonexistent; the only known prior text to use the name (as "Ofalia") is Jacopo Sannazaro's Arcadia.