Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 12. Thursday, 7 January 1993.
Date: Wednesday, 6 Jan 1993 15:27:59 -0500
First a belated reply to Kevin Berland's comment on Jacobi's reading of the
line "they HAVE made me mad"; I thought the point was his recognition of his
brutal treatment of Ophelia, the horrified realization that he had been driven
to behave with such viciousness to, yes, this nice and rather naive young woman
he loves or at least thought he loved.
"Strong" Ophelia's do indeed have to play very hard against the text-- although
that's not impossible (I think Diane Venora--is that the name?--in the Kevin
Kline production managed it effectively). Still, by the time the poor girl has
been driven to mutter "I think nothing, my lord," I think she has little
personal strength left in reserve. But her situation does parallel Hamlet's in
ways that are significant. She succumbs to the demands of corrupted authority,
while Hamlet agonizes over precisely that problem (what if the "father" asking
him to kill is "a goblin damned"?); she goes mad in earnest, though he only
pretends to, and, if the gravediggers are to be believed, she really kills
herself, while Hamlet only talks about it...