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|GR: An Ophelia theory, part II
Written by Laraine
(5/19/2003 2:01 p.m.)
Derek Jacobi wrote the Foreward to the Everyman edition of Hamlet. (Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc.) 1998. It's a four-page introduction, in which he spends more than two pages discussing the "to be or not be"/"get thee to a nunnery" scene. I think what he says is very, very interesting about Ophelia:
. . . the last thing Polonius has said to [Ophelia] is "Walk you here. Read on this book." but most Ophelias have to not "walk you here" but go to the wings or hide behind a pillar, or do something to get out of Hamlet's way, whereas the whole point of the scene is for her to confront him.
This really makes bunches of sense to me. It makes Ophelia's role in the play pivotal on both a personal level with Hamlet, as well as in being the crux upon which the second half of the play turns.
One thing I thought Branagh did very well in his film version was that the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet had a real back story with a lot of tenderness to it. It's not surprising that he might either agree with Jacobi or have come to agree with him about Ophelia: the two men have been friends for a long time, and they both have a deep affinity with this play.
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