people stumble upon this site looking
for my and my site's namesake, Shakespeare's Ophelia. While she's not
the theme of my
site, this little page has some info about her, since for obvious
reasons I'm interested in her too.
At Ophelia's Store:
illustration of Ophelia in the water.
Ophelia 1894, J. W.
that's for remembrance.
Pray you, love, remember.
And there's pansies, that's for thoughts.
There's fennel for you, and columbines.
There's rue for you, and here's some for me.
We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays.
Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.
There's a daisy. I would give you some violets,
but they withered all when my father died.
They say he made a good end.
Hamlet Prince of Denmark
Act IV Scene V
appears in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
She watches the development of his apparent madness, suffers his
and strange behavior as he rejects and humiliates her (part of his
to make good his claim of insanity,) she is used by her
a pawn towards manipulating Hamlet, and then finally, discovers that
beloved has violently murdered her father. In the face of this, Ophelia
falls into (genuine) madness, and eventually drowns herself. Part of
tragedy of her character is not the manner of her death, but the
treatment it is given. She fades like the flowers for which she is so
known, and dies quietly offstage.
and other painters through
have created their own version of Ophelia. Which is not a surprise, as
the tragic and romantic aspects of her character, along with the
imagery of the young woman floating amongst the flowers and billowing
fabric of her gown and slowly sinking to her death while singing
peculiar tunes is practically irrisistable, particularly to the
high-strung and romantic artists of the nineteenth century.
today, she still remains a popular, iconic subject for painters.
is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them:
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
Hamlet Prince of Denmark
Act IV Scene VII
1852, John Everett Millais
, Ophelia has been portrayed in many
following list shows flim versions of Hamlet, with the name of the
actress who played her, and a picture if available.
Unfortunately, for most pictures I was unable to find a shot from the
actual film, or in many of the older cases, any pictures at all. There
are a few existing film versions of Hamlet I have not included in the
list, as I was unable to find the name of the actress portraying
Ophelia. I've also included the name of the actor playing the title
role, as versions of Hamlet as most often identifiable by their leading
(Ethan Hawke as Hamlet)
(Kenneth Branaugh as Hamlet)
Helena Bonham Carter
(Mel Gibson as Hamlet)
(Richard Burton as Hamlet)
Hamlet, 2000 (TV)
(Campbell Scott as Hamlet)
Hamlet, 1994 (TV)
(Michael Schenk as Hamlet)
(Kevin Klein as Hamlet)
Hamlet, 1988 (TV,
Hamlet, 1984 (TV,
Hamlet, 1973 (Canadian)
(Rick McKenna as Hamlet)
(Ian McKellen as Hamlet)
Hamlet, 1970 (TV)
(Richard Chamberlain as
Hamlet, 1969 (TV)
(Nicol Williamson as Hamlet)
(Alfred Ryder as Hamlet)
Jo Maxwell Muller
Hamlet, 1964 (TV)
(Christopher Plummer as
Hamlet, 1960 (TV,
(Maximilian Schell as Hamlet)
Hamlet, 1959 (TV)
Hamlet, 1955 (TV,
(Bengt Ekerot as Hamlet)
Hamlet, 1953 (TV)
(Maurice Evans as Hamlet)
(Sir Lawrence Olivier as
Hamlet, 1947 (TV)
(John Byron as Hamlet)
(Alwin Neuß as Hamlet)
department has an excellent directory of paintings based on the works
of Shakespeare, including a page devoted entirely to Ophelia.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology's "The Tech"
complete collection of William Shakespeare's plays online in HTML
format (online singe 1993!) including the text of Hamlet