Ophelia

One of my favorite Shakespearian plays, Hamlet is beloved for Hamlet’s sharp wit, visceral melancholy, and famous  “To be or not to be” speech.

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Hugues Merle- Hamlet and Ophelia

BUT Poor Ophelia, caught in the arms of Hamlet in her grave, he swearing by forty-thousand brothers, all too late. Like Helena Bonham Carter, I agree that the character of Ophelia is paled to Hamlet certainly, but throughout the entire play as well. Her ‘mad scene’ is as significant to that of Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene, perhaps more subtle, but nonetheless imbued with meaning. Like Macbeth, the audience never witnesses the leading lady’s suicide, and each women’s tragic influence by their male counterparts is rarely acknowledged. Ophelia, driven mad with her father’s murder at the hands of her lover, lost completely without Polonius’ or Laertes’ guidance, devastated by an absent Hamlet’s scorn, on the surface seems to revert back to childhood, wandering the halls of Elsinore, unkept and furtive, singing. However, her song is a vulgar one, a dirge of an unrequited lover.

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Ophelia (1889)-John William Waterhouse

Ophelia is known as a naive, obedient child. But she is much more than that. She lived in the shadow of men with loose tongues all her life, and when they left one by one, first her brother, Laertes, then her father, Polonius, and lastly, her lover, Hamlet, she had no way to tell which way was north and which was south, and she lost her way. She was torn between loyalty to her heart, Hamlet, and her blood, Polonius, never having been shown loyalty and love to herself. As the bearer of truth, she is doomed to die, and be ignored, misunderstood, taken advantage of, and under appreciated.

Literature:

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark-William Shakespeare-http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/full.html

Hamlet and His Problems by T.S. Elliot-http://www.bartleby.com/200/sw9.html

Music:

The Lumineers-“Ophelia”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTOC_q0NLTk

Film:

  1. Hamlet (1990) directed by Franco Zeffirelli, with Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia

LINK TO interview with Helena Bonham Carter for Hamlet:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI0N0JIOY50&feature=youtu.be

2. Hamlet (1996) directed by Kenneth Branagh who stars as Hamlet. Full adaptation of the play (just under 4 hrs)

HAMLET
That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should
admit no discourse to your beauty.

OPHELIA
Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than
with honesty?

HAMLET
Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner
transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the
time gives it proof. I did love you once.

OPHELIA
Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

HAMLET
You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot
so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of
it: I loved you not.

OPHELIA
I was the more deceived.

HAMLET
Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a
breeder of sinners?

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