Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Ophelia

Painting by John William Waterhouse
I am a Shakespeare geek. One of my friends once horrified me by saying he thought Aaron Sorkin was a better writer than Shakespeare and asking me to explain "why everybody thinks Shakespeare is so great." (Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed his scripts for The Social Network and Charlie Wilson's War. (To be honest though, I was bored to tears by Moneyball. I think Draft Day was the movie Moneyball wanted to be. It's disappointing that not more people are oging to see Draft Day.) But I digress.

The point is that because I love words and never quite outgrew my delight in ornate words (I blame Dr. Seuss with his silly, made-up words), I don't find Shakespeare's language a problem or a barrier to my enjoyment of his plays. I think most high school students learn to loathe the plays because they're forced to read Julius Caesar first.  that play is not the best gateway play into Shakespeare. (I think Macbeth is.  It's got a little bit of everything--a ghost. Murder. A strong female lead.

But wait, you say, Hamlet has a ghost. Hamlet has a murder. Hamlet has a strong female. To which I replay--if you're talking about Gertrude, I disagree. She marries the man who murdered her husband and then leaves her son to take revenge. (Wouldn't it have been kind of interesting if it had been Gertrude whoorchestrated the play that pricked the usurper's conscience?)  And don't even get me started on Ophelia.

I hate Ophelia.  I really do. Manipulated by her father. Mistreated by Hamlet. A suicide at the end. I always wanted her to have more gumption. (A word my grandparents used that has fallen out of favor despite being a great word.) Give me Lady Macbeth any time.

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