Bowdlers on Death of Ophelia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0611 Friday, 30 June 2006
From: Cris Smith <
Date: Thursday, 29 Jun 2006 14:52:48 -0300
Subject: Bowdlers on Death of Ophelia
I have been working on bowdlerized versions of Hamlet to find out how
different texts describe Ophelia's death in the nineteenth century and
am rather puzzled.
I have compared The Family Shakespeare to the Arden edition and can't
find the many infamous expurgations commonly attributed to the Bowdlers.
A part from a couple of lines cut from Gertrude's description of the
accident, everything else remains pretty much the same.
Why, then, do many claim that the Bowdlers only euphemistically refer to
Ophelia's death as an accidental drowning rather than the suicide
implied by Shakespeare? The grave diggers' words have not been modified
and neither have Laertes' to the "churlish priest", hence the
insinuation is clear.
Could it be that the 1st editions, probably written by Henrietta, were
more radical in relation to Ophelia than the later ones? (I should add
that the Family Shakespeare edition I have was published in 1861).
I would be very grateful indeed if a good soul could help me - no
libraries here in Brazil have The Family Shakespeare, therefore I cannot
compare mine to earlier editions.
Many thanks and best wishes,
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
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