By Kaara L. Peterson, Deanne Williams (eds.)
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Extra resources for The Afterlife of Ophelia
He does not see chastity as simply another humor, in the way Jonson does, or as a false ideal, in the way Middleton does. Shakespeare does not create female characters who commit adultery—or who even want to commit adultery. Constancy of desire is the defining characteristic of nearly every major female character in Shakespeare’s plays. In the few exceptional instances—Cressida, for example, or Goneril—the women do not (I might prefer to say cannot) act in a way that disguises, even as an open secret, their inconstancy.
I read in a book once,” she announces, “that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (89). Is Anne now Juliet? There are many figures out of literature against which Anne assesses her experience: Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott, Scott’s Lady of the Lake, Robert Browning’s Pippa. Anne’s is a costumed world—for example, when, on the first day of Sunday school, she grudgingly accepts the gingham dresses that Marilla makes for her but wishes for “a white one with puffed sleeves” (125) When, later in the novel, she actually gets a fashionable dress as a Christmas gift from Matthew, she cries—now recalling that touchstone term of Ophelian theater—“Matthew, it’s perfectly exquisite.
An Actress Prepares ● 45 Another said she took herself off to the library and got down every dusty book I could find that wrote about Hamlet (looking back at the sleeve of my tattered Arden edition now, scribbled there are things like “nothing in the love itself to sow its own destruction” and “first speech shows no signs of recent neglect from him—so crucial change comes when she neglects him,” “self destructiveness that follows from conforming to father’s wishes” and, my favourite, “intelligent girl obsessed with boy”).
The Afterlife of Ophelia by Kaara L. Peterson, Deanne Williams (eds.)