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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
Helena Bonham Carter's Ophelia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2215  Monday, 24 November 2003

From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Nov 2003 08:57:04 -0500
Subject: 14.2210 Helena Bonham Carter's Ophelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2210 Helena Bonham Carter's Ophelia

I think Ophelia's interest in Gertrude indicates her intuition that
Hamlet's destructive heterosexuality has its roots in his dysfunctional
relationship with his mother. On the other hand, Shakespeare's attempt
to direct the scene is also a cautionary tale for critics:

...her speech is nothing,
Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
The hearers to collection; they aim at it ("yawn at it" in the quartos),
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;
Which, as her winks, and nods, and gestures yield them,
Indeed would make one think there might be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.

...she may strew
Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.

Which she does indeed in Q1 in the mind of Laertes who is present for
her ballads. Claudius is concerned that Laertes:

Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
With pestilent speeches of his father's death;
Wherein necessity, of matter beggar'd,
Will nothing stick our person to arraign
In ear and ear.

He hears unfounded rumors of Claudius' guilt which (in Q1) Ophelia's
obscure words seem to him to confirm. In a sense, Claudius is indeed
culpable for Polonius' death, and Laertes, like Paul Wolfowitz and
unlike Hamlet, is willing to act on "murky intelligence."

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
http://phoenixandturtle.net

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