Ophelia - Bryony Lavery, review

Ophelia is a comedy or a parody on a tragedy in which the main character had an incestuous relationship with her own brother and aches for revenge similarly as her own mother who tries and finally drowns her because she cannot bear the shame of her son. There is also included “play in the play” effect that creates quite a tragicomic situation in the end and supports the reader to think about results of forbidden sex relation from “another point of view” of Ophelia alone, its consequences for the child etc. Easily said the death is not a solution.

Genre: comedy

Theme: an attempt to cope with a child that was begotten by incestuous love. Ophelia wanted revenge on Hamlet and her mother wanted revenge on Ophelia.

“You killed my father because you loved not yours!

You took my love and gave not yours!

You gave your grief to me but took not mine!

You told me all your nightmares

You talked of love

then said your words were play.

You gave me hope …

then snatched it straight away!” – she uses needle jabbing him while saying it  (comic effect)

Subject: revenge (death of Polonius), rape, vengence (killed father, incestuous child), love, murder

Setting: symbolic – weaponry, castle, underwater, etc. probably unrealistic to underline the comic character of the play. Ophelia and other characters are moving quite freely through the time and space for example from the board of the ship to the sea and to the castle, Elsinore.

Characters are from different Shakespeares plays and represent mostly female characters, except Hamlet and Claudius.

“the women too angry and

the men too few;”

Gertrude – represents a loving mother but only for her son who cannot live without him. She is too proud of her ancestry.  “I am a royal woman, I make kings!” She also manipulates the other characters to achieve what she wants.

Portia – she is kind of “advisor” usually makes suggestions on what to do, but nobody listens

Goneril – usually tells what to do or what she will do with the son of Gertrude etc, like a leader.

Ophelia – the main character, she is the storyteller, in the end, she also expresses own opinion on her own story “play in the play” effect

Lady Capulet – wants to adopt Ophelia but Gertrude doesn’t allow it.

Katherina – she is a companion of Lady Capulet

Nurse – loving woman, very sensible, she knows from sheets what the others do during the night

Charmian – sister of Gertrude helped her to drown Ophelia

Other characters: Celia, Horatia, Lady Macbeth, Player King

Thought: to show interconnections between different plays from the past with their effect in the present mixed with forbidden love while using original names of characters of the plays. It is necessary to know the previous plays to fully understand the meaning of each character.

It was funny to read the story is closed or “cyclic” revenge for revenge.