Tonight, I am thinking of Ophelia. I am thinking about how it is more often women who go mad in literature. Take Sylvia Plath as another example. Why is the death of a beautiful woman immediately romantic?
It is almost a month now since I saw KLPAC’s Hamlet and I am still haunted by Hana Nadira’s nuanced portrayal of Ophelia’s descent into madness; her off-key singing and half-waltzing in Elsinore court, clutching onto bare stalks of wilting flowers. The whole auditorium was immersed in her grief. And I was disconcertingly pulled in by the tragic poetry of it all.
Some nights, I am Ophelia, teetering at the brink of my sanity. The damage Hamlet has inflicted cannot be undone. How much more can I take before I, too, am driven mad? Will men then write hymns to lament my waterlogged corpse?
But as always, there is a version of every story that doesn’t get told. A version where she doesn’t die or marry the prince. A version where she goes on an adventure on her own or gets marooned on a desert or simply runs away, to a place, where there are neither happy nor tragic endings.
A place, where she is finally free.