For at least two centuries, the fascination with Ophelia has taken her well beyond the realm of the text. Her image has not only seduced generations of visual artists but has captivated a number of prominent writers and film directors as well. The French symbolists, in particular, were fascinated by Ophelia, suggesting a lively interplay between poetic and visual depictions of the muse which can still be seen in contemporary art. Writers and artists alike have been intrigued, not only by the actual scenes of death and madness in Shakespeare’s play, but also by the tantalizing cuts in its various editions1 – cuts which seem to hold out the promise of more. In this sense, as Elaine Showalter argues,2 the text itself has proved less interesting than a history of representations that far exceed its original boundaries. Today, Ophelia thrives in contemporary literature and art. Depictions of dead, drowning, mad, or repressed Ophelias, for example, proliferate across a wide range of twentieth-and twenty-first-century media: on the stage, in books and paintings, the screen arts as well as the internet in blogs, amateur videos, mash-ups on YouTube, games, and
profile pictures.3 Ophelia, “the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious,” retains a singular magnetism that continues to draw many into her tragic beauty.