Ophelia, singing: “Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime…
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.”
Now, why would Ophelia sing such a song? It wasn’t Valentine’s day – what she sang made no sense.
In the play “Hamlet,” beautiful Ophelia is portrayed in the early scenes as a demure and dutiful daughter, but she suffers one traumatic event after another. Prince Hamlet, the man she loves, brutally rejects her, and she later learns that her beloved father has been killed by that very man. It is all too much for her – she goes insane.
The sequence of Ophelia’s madness is one of the most powerfully dramatic scenes Shakespeare ever wrote.
Quiet, demure Ophelia, now totally disheveled, comes before the King and Queen, who are horrified at what they see. Babbling, speaking nonsense – “They say the owl was a baker’s daughter” – Ophelia also sings some, for her, indecent ditties:
“Then up he rose and donn’d his clothes
And op’d the chamber door.
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.’”
Later, Ophelia dies by drowning – was it suicide? When the body is made ready for burial, her loving brother says:
“Lay her in the earth
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring!”
1 year ago