Savannah's Theatre Blog

Ophelia – Analysis

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on August 30, 2010

I found a lot of interesting points to this monologue, mainly coming from the meaning of all the plant Ophelia talks about. This website helped me a lot: . After learning the different meanings, I then had to figure out what they meant to Ophelia. They are outlined in the monologue below in blue.

After I had done all the analysing, etc. I needed to figure out my lighting. Originally I wanted to have a par can or flood lights coming in from the wings to give myself a more ‘3D shape’ as we were told would happen after seeing Superheroes. I then wanted lights coming in from the front (I hadn’t even worked out which ones at the time – I was still a little confused). My final touch was to be water – foreshadowing Ophelia’s death. I experimented by using a floodlight upstage with a container of water and trying to get a rippling affect happening. I was not very successful with this… If I sloshed the water around a lot and held the floodlight above, I could get some form of a reflection however I obviously couldn’t have someone standing upstage behind me sloshing water and holding a floodlight above it. The audience probably wouldn’t have even been able to see the rippling effect the water was creating because of the person in the way.

Basically, I ended up scrapping this idea all together. Not the water, but everything surrounding it. I’d been thinking about how if you have a light coming from one side of a person, the other will be shaded. I thought this would be very symbolic of Ophelia’s emotional state; she has some sanity and is trying to give out warnings (you will understand with the annotations) yet has been driven utterly mad by everything that has been happening around her. I tried that with a model of Daniel and then Ms Flood and I was really happy with the result and I just had to figure out what to do about the water and whether to use any other lights. For a little while (about a minute) I even considered using the disco ball and I thought it would be good to incorporate yet then I decided it was too “flashy” for the style I was going for.

I then decided to try projecting water from a video. So I searched on youtube for a suitable video and found this: 

I will also attempt to put the video in a post somewhere…

 When I was experimenting on Friday afternoon the projection was too bright so I then pulled the black curtains and it was still to bright. So I then put the lens cap on the projector and it was perfect! It was very subtle and precisely what I was looking for.

It was really short so I put it onto a loop so it was repeating. I then had a problem in that after 34 seconds it would stop for a few seconds with a black screen and then start again. I then made it slower so it took about 2 minutes and 11 seconds. This seemed to work pretty well but I am yet to test the slower version out! And it is looking a bit disjointed..

 However, before this experimentation, I had a rather serious issue in that the par can suddenly turned blue and died (I will surely murder Geoffrey as he was using it for his Group 4 project I was told – LIGHTS AND ACID DO NOT MIX). Ms Flood suggested using two flood lights as a substitute. I was a little bit worried that this would create too much light but I knew I needed to try anyway so I went to the science department and they weren’t there.. I hunted for a bit and came up with nothing. So then someone – Cathy maybe? – suggested the overhead projector as it had a light on it and then Taleah and I went on a stalking mission which took about  MILLION YEARS but we got the overhead projector and after a bit of fiddling it worked! Really well! I’m really happy with it and I think I actually like the way it lights more (for this purpose) because it has a more natural feel.

The monologue:

There’s rosemary (in Shakespeare’s time, rosemary was used in funeral wreaths), that’s for remembrance; pray,

love, remember: and there is pansies (also relieves hysteria in children – supposedly. It can be seen as a way in which Ophelia is trying to calm herself down to get through what she needs to say). That’s for thoughts.

There’s fennel (false flattery) for you, and columbines (the ‘thankless flower’, symbolic of ingratitude): there’s rue (symbolic for sorrow and repentance. Protects against poisons – it is at this point that we ask ourselves if Ophelia is trying to warn the Queen)

for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it

herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with

a difference. There’s a daisy (innocence and purity; it possesses only good qualities. Here, it seems, Ophelia is talking of herself and trying to gain trust): I would give you

some violets (sweet and non-lasting, associated with early death), but they withered all when my father

died: they say he made a good end, –


For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.

And will he not come again?

And will he not come again?

No, no, he is dead:

Go to thy death-bed:

He never will come again.

His beard was as white as snow,

All flaxen was his poll:

He is gone, he is gone,

And we cast away moan:

God ha’ mercy on his soul!

And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God be wi’ ye.

So... In my opinion, it seems that Ophelia had somehow learnt of the murder that had taken place – of Claudius murdering the original king via poison poured into his ear – and that it why she is warning those around her and, of course, insulting and accusing them too but very snide (‘There’s fennel for y.ou, and columbines’ – it seems that she is accusing Claudius of murder)

 There was dialogue throughout this which I obviously cut out for the purpose of this monologue. For Ophelia’s, this is not necessarily problematic because – in my opinion – she cannot take much of the outside world in at this stage.


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