Thursday, December 18, 2008
I used to have a mild obsession with the character Ophelia. She’s beautifully tragic. I used to identify with her in a lot of ways.
Hamlet, her bf, started to have some family problems. His father was murdered and his throne taken by his uncle who married his mother, even though Hamlet was of age to take the throne himself, despite his mother’s remarriage and despite his uncle’s blood relation to the king, it is hamlet who was next in line though somehow skipped over by his father’s murderer. But that’s only periphery to Ophelia’s story. She is a young beautiful lady who is dating the prince. But as part of his plot to uncover real evidence of the dark truth Hamlet decides to convince everyone he’s crazy, basically so everyone involved will put down their guard and let information slip out, so with any luck they’ll hang themselves. Anyway Ophelia has this hottie bf and he goes all crazy at her, her father is an advisor to the king so he doesn’t break character for her, quite the opposite, he hams it up knowing she’ll be watched by the right eyes. So basically one day her bf goes nutty on her, tells her off, with bs ranging from sexual innuendos to emploring her to join a convent. She’s pretty upset over it. She totally loved him and was thinking she was going to be wed to him, then suddenly he’s a total ass to her, and worse than that he appears brain affected. Then the unspeakable happens, one night hamlet kills her dad and they send him off that night to england to be hung for the crime. It was an accident and he escapes execution, but Ophelia never finds that out cause unlike hamlet who’s father’s death caused him to feign madness, Ophelia’s father’s death coupled with the idea of who did it and his subsequent death, made her actually go mad. The poetic description of this madness is a large part of my love for her. She bugs out in the royal court passing out flowers to the various people there, each symbolic of what she thought of them Then she darts off to run around in the woods, singing bits of old songs while she barefooted adorns herself with vines and flowers. She climbs out onto a branch and falls into the lake, and lays on the water singing and recounting little verses, unaware of her peril, then her dress soaks up the water and drags her down to her watery grave. I often wonder why i love this character so much. I used to have a fascination with mental illness, that was before i met anyone who actually had mental problems. I used to hear the word crazy applied as a description of most of my favorite things so her mental break to me was completely romantic. Her mind after all is lost because of a broken heart. Having had my own fair share of broken hearts I sympathize completely with her inability to recover from such a mortal wound. And the way she goes wild is like a child in the woods. I am in love with nature and when i am in a forest i collect pretty leaves and flowers and put them in my hair, i love mud on my feet and climb onto high branches and swim in the lakes and rivers, and i sing. I have sense enough not to drown. But hers wasn’t a suicide, she was a casualty of love. Her passion and love for her man and for her father were so strong that when they died she could no longer function, when they died she died too.
I see her level of passion as a good thing. I want to love with every morsel of my being I want to give every piece of myself to love. I admire the kind of people who would die for passion who love completely.
BUT Lately, the past few years, i am less interested in this character, because i have come to admire people who will not die for love. Who love completely, but have the fortitude of spirit to weather the storms that life will inevitably throw your way. I admire the people who don’t have to loose their shit to spend a day out playing in the woods covered in mud. I admire the people who do that just cause they want to and don’t care what people think. I also no longer romanticise the word ‘crazy’ its too often used wrong. There is such a thing as mental illness and it should not be confused with people being original individuals. Originality is beautiful, mental illness is sad. I like the idea that she was able to make cunning observations of the roles that the various people in the court played in the unfolding tragedy, and that she said these things to their faces (people in that time period would have known the meanings of the flowers she passed to them) However these observations would have been more powerful if they were just said outright instead of masked in metaphors, and they would have been more useful if voiced before her father’s murder. When i was in love with Ophelia I was heartbroken and I saw her as a martyr of love. I saw her death heroic, she personified how i felt, almost justified my refusal to get over it and move on. But life has many heartaches along the road and many things will not go as planned, and the prince can become the villian, and your heart can be betrayed. But allowing the bad things to destroy you is not heroic, its pathetic. You can love someone intensely and passionately and it could not last or they can turn out to be not worthy, but that doesn’t make the love you felt at the time any less important relevant passionate or real. Not everything is forever. It is not a betrayal of love to let it end. And the extent of your love and the fierceness of your passion is not proved by how devastated you become in the aftermath. Love is beautiful. In a perfect world it lasts for forever, in this one you gotta cherish it when it comes your way, for as long as its around, and i try to not tarnish its joyful places in my memory, regardless of the aftermath.