Most of us have heard the story of Ophelia. Some may have read the required Hamlet in high school, some may have stumbled upon it later in life on their own accord. I was one of the latter people, having read only excerpts from Hamlet in grade ten. I did not understand much of it back then, its language being dark and confusing, like a never-ending maze. While the confusion by no means dissipated with my aging, I now have more patience to read and reread paragraphs to sink in their meaning. It was while I was reading the paragraph below that I started imagining Ophelia and her story.
“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. ”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet
I will not write about her background here or her role in Hamlet. I want you to see Ophelia through my eyes and my imagination.
I imagined her as a beautiful young woman who is driven to a point of despair by outside circumstances. But unlike in Hamlet, where only one small paragraph was dedicated to her death that made it sound passive and unimportant, my Ophelia was empowered even in her last moments. I wanted to portray her loneliness and despair as she pondered the choice she was about to make. But I wanted the moment she decided to die to be a powerful moment where she took control of her life, or the way that it would end. The Ophelia I imagined was determined. She was also at peace with the decision she has made.
Her innocence and purity were a big part of who she was. Yet it the moment she decided to die, she shed some of her immaturity and girlishness, leaving it with the flowers she threw away as she entered the lake.
Without further ado, scroll down to see our beautiful imagery of Ophelia’s last moments.