Sunday, September 1, 2019

Flowers, herbs and willows Essay

Also, the fact that Shakespeare did not add any stage directions to the play helps the director portray the protagonists in the light they see fit. This has granted directors the licence to portray Ophelia as either virginal or sexually knowledgeable. Brannagh uses the device of flashbacks to perfectly show his audience that he sees Ophelia as being less than innocent and that she and Hamlet have previously been sexually active. He does this without taking anything away from the script and gets his point across using a dialogue-less scene. However in the most recent silver screen version of Hamlet directed by Michael Almereyda, Ophelia is portrayed as being virginal and innocent as no sexual references appear during the film. This shows how different the character of Ophelia can b portrayed, almost as they were two separate individuals. The lack of stage directions not only makes it simpler for directors to portray her the way they want, but also for the audience, as they don’t have to decide whether she was innocent or not for themselves, but have it done for them. The third interpretation of Ophelia is that if her being sexually active. The scenes in which she goes mad strongly suggest her sexual knowledge comes from her own experiences with Hamlet, as she acts in a sexual manner. The songs she sings during her madness are also of a sexual nature, which further points to her being sexually active. There is evidence of sexual activity in Branagh’s production, during the previously mentioned flashback scenes. Richard Corum also supports the view that she was sexually active, however Shakespeare never states whether she was a virgin or not Her conversation with Hamlet in act3 scene2 strongly suggest that she and hamlet have had sexual relations, â€Å"you are keen, my lord, you are keen†. The keenness may be that of his sexual lust and she teases him by pointing it out. However much this may point towards the idea that they both have had sexual relations, Shakespeare still never specifically says whether she is a virgin or not. Richard Corum investigates the symbolism and significance of the â€Å"flowers, herbs and willows, † that Ophelia talks off in chapter nine. Corum implies that through the flower imagery that Ophelia uses, it is undoubtedly obvious that she is not innocent. The flowers symbolize Ophelia’s wishes to regain her lost purity and to once again become an ‘innocent flower’. The â€Å"fennel† that is mentioned represents the â€Å"fickleness of love†. Folklore of the time also suggests that fennel and rue were â€Å"abortion-inducing agents†. The willow which Ophelia was holding when she was found dead, was also thought to hold the same properties, which means that Ophelia attempted to abort a pregnancy before the died. Furthermore, the term â€Å"flowers† was used at the time as a term for menstruation, which suggests that Ophelia’s â€Å"interest in rosemary† was a way of her trying to tell herself that her menstruation cycle continued as is normal, meaning she was trying to convincer herself that she was not pregnant. Corum also states that rue supposedly made men impotent and that in handing it to Hamlet, Ophelia was trying to prevent a â€Å"situation that is now perhaps unpreventable† Corum’s examination of the flowers in Act 4, Scene 5, seems to be viable. This is mainly due to his study being based on folklore that existed in Shakespearean times. The ideas themselves are plausible as they clearly fit into the character of Ophelia and can be related credibly to her apparent affair with Hamlet. Instead of outright stating Ophelia’s sexual knowledge Shakespeare uses this symbolism and imagery as subtle undertones to incorporate the idea of her sexual exploits. Shakespeare has always had strong-minded female protagonists in his plays, which means that the assertion that Ophelia is a character of considerable aptitude is not a new phenomenon. Lady Macbeth for example is the driving force behind her husband’s ambition and influenced him to kill the king. Juliet is another astute and determined character despite her young age, her character proves that women can challenge the authority of the men, as she does with her father by marrying Romeo. Taking the conception of Ophelia being a strong minded and autonomous character would by no means be extreme, as the examples I have given surely provide enough evidence that Shakespeare has presented female characters as being of a significant standing.

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