You say that you love rain, but you open your umbrella when it rains.You say that you love the sun, but you find a shadow spot when the sun shines.You say that you love the wind, but you close your windows when wind blows.This is why I am afraid, you say that you love me too.
I was wonderin if I could get your thoughts. Want to write from Ophelia's pov but I really can't get a grip on her character. She loved Hamlet - but did he undermine her? Repress her like all the other men of her time did, and that was why they split? Did he just become blind to her 'madness'? WAS she mad? Would she have thought his quest silly and self-centred? Did she aspire to greater things she couldnt achieve as a woman? (stay tuned 4 part 2)
part 2: How did the men in her life let her down /exactly/? she’s not super fleshed out and I could use some thoughts. For e.g. I’m also writing about Desdemona and focusing on abusive relationships, but it’s much harder to pinpoint a specific subject matter for Ophelia (the idea is giving voice to victims of patriarchy in literature) just because all the text on her is very vague e.g “she was oppressed” like ok gimme some to work with here pham. Anyway would love your thoughts/take on her <3
Sounds like an interesting project… and lots of questions to answer!
I assume you saw this post, which covers some of the problems you address, but I’ll try to answer your questions more specifically.
Insofar as Ophelia is a fictional character, some of your questions are unanswerable. There’s nothing in the text that can give us an accurate assessment of what Ophelia would have thought of Hamlet’s quest and whether she aspired to greater things, for instance. That can be up to you as a creative writer to imagine.
As to why they split up (if they were ever exactly together), the indication is that Ophelia broke off the relationship with Hamlet because her father and brother told her to: ‘as you did command / I did repel his letter and denied / His access to me’ (2.1.105-7). It can’t really be blamed on Hamlet. That’s a typical instance of patriarchal values dictating a woman’s life and how she ought to appear before marriage, and how she ought to act towards men who might not marry her. If the obsession with virginity and purity didn’t exist, then there would be no need for Ophelia’s father and brother to monitor her activity and look out for her. But it’s important to note that Polonius and Laertes’s words and actions are also dictated by patriarchal values that they didn’t make up themselves. Objectively, one can say she was let down by them, but as far as they’re concerned (and as far as Ophelia’s concerned too), they’re looking after her interests.
As for Ophelia, she never actually says exactly what she thinks of Hamlet. She only says that Hamlet has been courting her, but not her feelings. In fact, she says to her father ‘I do not know, my lord, what I should think’ (1.3.103), suggesting either that she’s intimidated by her father, or that she doesn’t have much of a mind of her own (itself an interesting indication of her position). Basically, the text leaves quite a lot of leeway for actors to play her as they like: she could be clearly in love and grudgingly obeying her father and brother, she might be confused, or she might just be going along with whatever she’s told (feeling for Hamlet because he feels for her, stopping seeing him because she was told not to). She does later say that seeing Hamlet mad makes her ‘of ladies most deject and wretched’ (3.1.154), and since Hamlet killing her father is enough to send her mad, she is probably quite fond of him. I don’t say she didn’t love Hamlet, but unlike characters like Juliet or Desdemona, she never says anything passionate to or about Hamlet.
There’s nothing in the text that would suggest Hamlet is undermining Ophelia, but he does insult her and her gender, especially during the nunnery scene (3.1.141-45). Telling her to go to a nunnery isn’t insulting in itself, but he goes on a whole tirade about women and their ways that would be nothing but confusing from her perspective. She does end up putting it down to his madness though, so she doesn’t seem to take that to heart: ‘O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!’ (3.1.149).
The text does suggest that Ophelia really does go mad, and that the madness is caused by the death of her father at the hands of her lover: all of her songs after she goes mad are about death and sex. This is the biggest hint of the kind of oppression she’s been under: she never talks about sex before she’s mad, which shows that her madness has freed her to talk about the things that actually concern her. This suggests that the patriarchal values that dictate her constrain her not to talk about sex. But you’ve got to remember that Hamlet and Ophelia are never on stage together after she goes mad, so there’s nothing for him to notice. The last time they spend together is in the Mousetrap scene, Hamlet goes to England, and when he returns, she’s dead.
I think the important thing to remember with Ophelia is that there are more men in her life than Hamlet, and that patriarchy and oppression don’t necessarily manifest in certain actions. That is to say that the men in her life don’t have to have let her down for her to be oppressed by patriarchy. This is because, while it can lead to abusive actions and particular instances of mistreatment of women and abusive relationships, patriarchy points to the larger systemic oppression of women that prevents them from acting freely, it’s not necessarily about individual men. There are some moments when this becomes clearer, for instance when she is made to act a certain way (and not see Hamlet) because of social expectations, or where it turns out that the suppression she feels is so strong that the loss of her father is enough to drive her mad, but it’s not like there are exact and specific instances of abuse and repression in Ophelia’s case, because what she’s suffering under reflects a much wider problem caused by the values of the patriarchal society she lives in but that neither she nor the people around her are necessarily aware of.
I’m afraid Shakespeare isn’t simple. Nothing is black and white, and being a victim of a situation often involves forces much larger than a few individuals and their lives.
I saw your post about liminal spaces and Shakespeare. I'm afraid I don't get it. How is Shakespeare all about liminal spaces? Could you give me some examples? I think I'm approaching this totally wrong. Thanks.
Ok so a liminal space is somewhere that exists between two clearly defined places - in literature that’s often portrayed or translated into metaphorical terms, with characters who don’t quite fit with the either/or status quo, or situations of upheaval and change.
Shakespeare seemed to love that shit. He uses physical liminal spaces, such as the forests in a midsummer night’s dream and the forest of Arden - where no one is acting according to their ‘proper’ station and the rules don’t apply, or in Antony and Cleo where the lovers exist in an unstable space halfway between Rome and Egypt, but never quite achieving the balance. Lear’s storm is a liminal space, too - a purgatorial sort of nowhere between the comforts of his kingdom and the inevitable approach of death. Hamlet is tortured by the liminal limbo of his moral indecision. An almost literal suspension between the damnation of murder and the shame of suicide. To be: and go to hell for killing? Or not to be: and go to hell for killing myself? Or live: and be torn apart by the paradox.
The characters cannot go back but also cannot seem to move forward without some catastrophic change taking place. They are stuck in the liminal space until they transform.
On a lighter note, you could also argue that the cross-dressing characters are liminal, too - Rosalind is a boy actor playing a girl playing a boy playing a girl in a game of self discovery and sexual awakening. She is neither gender and both. Lady Macbeth enters a liminal space when she asks the spirits to 'unsex me here’ - in fact, she’s almost asking to be transformed into something beyond man or woman so that she can carry out inhuman acts.
This painting in Hannibal’s kitchen (yeah, yeah, while someone may be watching the fight, I am mesmerized by the paintings around :D - no, don’t worry I am just kidding, Hannibal’s butt takes the precedence everywhere ;)) is called A Winter’s Tale, Act III, Scene III, Desert Place near the Sea by Robert Smirke.
Robert Smirke was an English painter and illustrator, specialising in small paintings showing subjects taken from literaure. He was a member of the Royal Academy.
The Winter’s Tale is a play by William Shakespeare. I am afraid I am not very familiar with it, so I raided the wiki and the likes: It was originally published in the First Folio of 1623. Although it was grouped among the comedies, some modern editors have relabelled the play as one of Shakespeare’s late romances. Some critics consider it to be one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays”, because the first three acts are filled with intense psychological drama, while the last two acts are comedic and supply a happy ending. (source: wiki)
I really hope that the last sentence will apply to the show! Three acts are filled with intense psychological drama, while the last two acts are comedic and supply a happy ending. (Obviously now we are in the first three acts. And I want my happy ending! Welll… of course it is to be discussed what would a happy end in this show mean, wink wink ;)).
All descriptions of paintings in Hannibal are here.
Tu dici che ami la pioggia, ma quando piove apri l’ombrello.
Tu dici che ami il sole, ma quando splende cerchi l’ombra.
Tu dici che ami il vento, ma quando tira chiudi la porta.
Per questo ho paura quando dici che mi ami.