For Ophelia

Okay, fine! I confess! I’m an English nerd. Catch me fawning over the Oxford comma, voluntarily reading an excess amount of Shakespeare, or using more paper than necessary for an essay – with no regard for the word limit. If you’ve been following this blog for a while (does two months count as a while?) or if you just know me in real life, this confession is not surprising in the least.

Needless to say, I’ve become quite familiar with many different characters upon my literary adventures. I’d love to analyse every piece of writing I’ve ever read – from the creepily addicting The Yellow Wallpaper, to the much loved Harry Potter (and all its various siblings) – and every intricate character I’ve found amongst their pages. However, this particular post is centred around my admiration for the most hauntingly wonderful and wonderfully tragic character I’ve ever stumbled across: Ophelia.

If you’re not familiar with Hamlet, Ophelia may just be the name of that fascinating The Lumineers song. In the case of a little confusion, I’d suggest reading Hamlet – if you liked the Lion King you’ll love this play – or just heading on over to SparkNotes to check out Ophelia’s sad, sad backstory. However, if you were assigned Hamlet as your recommended annual dosage of Shakespeare – like I was in summer school last August – then feel free to proceed with the Ophelia appreciation post this is turning out to be.

Never fear: I’m not delving into a whole character analysis (yet). I’m actually just setting up the premise for a poem I wrote. How exciting! And to understand the poem, you only need to know one thing about Ophelia.

She drowns.

Ophelia doesn’t get much attention in the play. She’s a sort of love interest, a tool for the main characters, and then a helpless body floating down the river. I always felt she didn’t get what she deserved. She’s such an intriguing character who is afforded so little of the limelight. I suppose I’d have to take that up with Shakespeare – the playwright in charge – but as he’s quite unavailable for comment, I’ll stick to musing over Ophelia’s tragic death in quartets.

So without further ado, for those as enthralled with Ophelia as I am, a poem.

Do You Fall with Your Palms Up?

do you kick against the current
as you drown in the weight
of your dress, of your grief, of your
sin

do you drop all your flowers
and watch as they rain
and wither in the water and
sink

do you fall with your palms up
grasping for ground
or beckoning the freefall
in

ophelia do you jump?
do you drink to fill your lungs
in the hope the river frees you from your
skin

– Chanel

2 thoughts on “For Ophelia

  1. I never thought this deeply about Ophelia when I was reading Hamlet. Now I feel so bad for her. She was a really innocent character and didn’t deserve what happened to her. This was a really interesting post, and the poem is just beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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