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|GR: Ophelia's weaknesses
Written by Mary Anne
(5/21/2003 8:47 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Feeling sorry for Ophelia, penned by Cheryl
Too true. And worse luck for her, her male relatives are very manipulative and she has none of the cleverness and energy of some of Shakespeare's other heroines who would make short work of any man who tried to treat them as Ophelia is treated. Imagine Beatrice in her place! 8-D
] She doesn't act, she re acts - and she did have opportunity to act. Whether she didn't due to fear or timidity or just plain dumbness, I don't know. I think this is why many people, myself included, feel sorry for her but cannot like her.
I, too, feel very sorry for her. As for her opportunity to act--one critic (I think Bradley) talks of the point where she tells Hamlet that her father is "at home." Much scorn has been heaped upon her for this lie, but as the critic points out, people seem to think that Desdemona, by comparison, is angelic for telling a lie to protect Othello from being accused of murdering her. Desdemona's dying words in response to "Who has done this deed?" are "Nobody. I myself." So, if you want to put a better face on Ophelia's lie--well, Hamlet's behaving like a madman. Is she protecting her family from a madman? Telling a lie and hoping to ward off harm?
And Hamlet even has the line in the scene, "It hath made me mad" (with the double meaning of angry, naturally, but the way he's acting makes the idea of insanity a consideration). I've even heard the actor deliver this line as "It hath made me mad . . ." as though he's amazed to find himself teetering on the brink of real rather than pretended insanity. That Ophelia believes him insane is beyond doubt: "Oh what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!"
] And Claudius and Gertrude don't count, for we know that "You cannot call it love; for at your age The hey-day in the blood is tame" ;-)
A point where Hamlet really misses the boat. ;-) Listen, Hammie baby--old ain't dead! It's also amusing to go back and read over Hamlet's remarks about how his late father treated Queen Gertrude, that he was always so loving to her and would not even allow "the winds of heaven . . . [to] visit her face too roughly." Clearly we must imagine her as very beautiful and retaining a great deal of that beauty--and also, that it's fine for a man to continue to express desire well into middle and old age, but a woman should certainly have settled down by now. *grin*
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