365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

341. Ophelia’s death

with 2 comments

The way I see it, there are three main options for Ophelia’s death:

1. It was an accident, and everything Gertrude says is true (if prettied up a little for Laertes’ benefit).

2. It was suicide, and Gertrude is lying so that Ophelia can have a Christian burial.

3. Gertrude pushed her in.

Okay, so the third option is pushing it a little, but actually, depending on how Gertrude is played, it can fit. It could have been considered a mercy kill. If Gertrude is portrayed as knowing exactly what kind of a man Claudius is, what he has done, and probably having some idea of her ultimate fate, then she could certainly have wanted to protect Ophelia from any more misery than she was already suffering.

Just a quick thought from yours truly before I head off to work.


Written by Caroline Mincks

September 7, 2010 at 12:11 PM

2 Responses

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  1. I was just in a production of Hamlet. It was… different… to say the least… if had to be compared to any of the movies… I’d say the recent david tennant version. Our version had music set to it. All the music was out of Hamlet’s mind and the kid who played Hamlet wrote all the music himself. His attention to detail and connections in music history is crazy. We turned the to be or not to be speech into a song and it was great. Back to Ophelia’s death. I played Ophelia– one thing I would like to ask is your opinion… when you read hamlet– did you think her to be pregnant? Because I certainly thought Shakespeare to hint that she could have been. (A big one being the flowers when she gives herself rue… which was used as a poision for abortions back then.) I decided that she was pregnant in our version. Also, we played her death as… she accidentally fell in… but didn’t try to swim.. she gave up in that moment and let herself die.
    As for Gertrude… In our version it was as if Gertrude aand Ophelia had this bond. Ophelia’s mother was dead and she wanted to think the queen almost as someone who could fill that void, but still must be distant. My friend played Gertrude and she played gertrude to have a soft spot for ophelia but only let it out in glimpses. We actually have acool moment on stage… during the 3rd night’s performance in the scene where there is the play within the play and hamlet is explaining the plot, I was sitting at the edge of the stage and she was diagonally upstage sitting at her throne. As hamlet talks. I look down and start thinking “Oh god, I’m pregnant with HIS child.” and I favour my belly, during that moment on stage I looked up and saw gertrude looking at my with a slightly worried and confused expression. I looked it her then at hamlet then back at her. She adjusted to a look that read “You’re pregnant? Oh no, I’m a grandmother.” I nodded and she looked at Hamlet then back at me and that accidental moment made Ophelia and Gertrude’s connection throughout the rest of the play even more intense. ANYWAY, I’ll stop rambling. 😛


    March 28, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    • Whether the idea of Ophelia’s pregnancy is supported by the text or not, I think it would do a great deal to raise the stakes of the relationship with Hamlet. Especially if he were to find out after her death. Not only would that mean he had lost a child, but (selfishly and politically) he’d realize he had lost a potential heir to the throne.


      March 29, 2012 at 9:31 AM

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