Kevin Briggs Photography

Ophelia's Dream

Kevin Briggs

The intent or objective in creating "Ophelia's Dream" is rather straightforward, albeit to some observers constituting rather distressing subject matter.

Of course the Ophelia in question is from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Like many undergraduate students, I found myself thoroughly immersed in several of Shakespeare's works, and quite overwhelmed at that, as it is absolutely impossible to fully grasp the author's genius with only a semester or two by way of introduction.

Nevertheless, over the years — and with respect to subsequent readings of particular works — my initial opinion has not changed regarding my favorite Shakespearean work. It remains, and always has been, Hamlet.

My rationale for identifying Hamlet as constituting my most beloved Shakespearean work is one that is far too personal for me to relate here. Nevertheless, the character of Ophelia is, at least in part, foremost with respect to being representative of my affection for this work.

As the noted American literary critic (and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University) Harold Bloom has written, Shakespeare's Ophelia was, quite simply, driven to madness and suicide by the title character. (See “Shakespeare and the Value of Personality/Shakespeare and the Value of Love” by Harold Bloom as part of The Tanner Lectures On Human Values at Princeton University, available online.)

Madness? Suicide? And this is your icon for the affection which you hold for this masterpiece of literature?!

Indeed.

I believe that Ophelia's madness was intimately intertwined with what many have seen as Hamlet's own psychosis. After all, Hamlet had performed a number of actions which would seemingly signify that he possessed no underlying conscience. (Look no further than the ultimate treatment of his friends and, perhaps especially, his own mother.)

And yet, were either of them truly mad? I do not believe such was the case, at least not in Shakespeare's own mind. Not even in the least.

Oh, really? How so? 

I will simply say that it is my belief that Ophelia's dream would represent Hamlet's dream as well… If, that is, he did not see things as they really are.