· 13 February 2016 ·
[Alex Epstein gets the point about Ophelia]
- To-morrow is
- Saint Valentine’s day,
- All in the morning betime,
- And I a maid at your window,
- To be your Valentine.
- Then up he rose and donn’d his clo’es
- And dupp’d the chamber door,
- Let in the maid, that out a maid
- Never departed more.
- By Gis and by Saint Charity,
- Alack, and fie for shame!
- Young men will do’t if they come to’t
- By Cock, they are to blame.
- Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me,
- You promis’d me to wed.’
- He answers:
- ‘So would I ‘a’ done, by yonder sun,
- An thou hadst not come to my bed.’
Ophelia’s song, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
In honour of the day tomorrow and the quote above, I was going to spell out a few things that people (readers, teachers, directors) don’t seem to grasp about Ophelia and her crazy-making, ultimately suicidal relationship with Hamlet. I was, that is, until I discovered that a bright fellow, a screenwriter by trade, has saved me the typing.
Read what Mr Epstein has to say, as it dups the chamber door into my own thinking. Then read Hamlet again (films can be too heavily edited), and see if it doesn’t make a great deal more sense. The Bodleian Library’s digitised First Folio is the best transcription around, if you’re up for the old spellings. At least they binned the medial ſs.
- Banner artwork:
- Ophelia [wikiart.org]
- · watercolour by Frances Macdonald MacNair, 1898