"Ophelia" by Alexander Cabanel (1823 - 1889)
"There is a willow grows aslant the brook,
~ William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
Who is "Ophelia" and Why Her Muse?
Ophelia is a character created by William Shakespeare who appears in his play, Hamlet. The story of Hamlet is tragic-- it is one of intrigue, deception, madness, death and suicide. Ophelia's role, even though she is a minor character in the play, is particularly haunting. Ophelia is in love with Hamlet, a young and emotionally tormented prince, who was once loving to Ophelia, yet has suddenly become abusive and cold. Ophelia clings to the memory of Hamlet once treating her with respect and tenderness, and she defends him and loves him to the very end despite his brutality and developing manic madness. As the play unfolds, Hamlet spirals into a full-blown psychotic manic episode.
Having a shaky adolescent identity and low-self esteem, Ophelia lives to please the men in her life, who never seem to accept her or love her in return. Ophelia's emotional frailty and young innocence work against her, as she cannot cope with the unfolding of one traumatic event after another, which all seem to center around the men in her life, including her father, who forcibly prostitutes her. The final straw is when Hamlet both rejects her and cruelly humiliates her after she has been sexually intimate with him. Hamlet mocks the fact that Ophelia is sexually experienced, and goes as far as to say that he never loved her. Ophelia's character shows nothing but loving kindness to Hamlet throughout each scene.
Unable to cope with Hamlet's rejection and abusive cruelties, she ultimately falls into a dissociative state and wanders to a river, collecting flowers, singing love songs, where ultimately she drowns herself after adorning her hair with flowers symbolic of her relationship with Hamlet:
There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
Dressed in elegant clothes that weigh her down, Ophelia drowns in a stream full of the flowers she's collected. The most haunting aspect of the story-telling is a device used by Shakespeare to tell of Ophelia's demise. Ophelia drowns off stage-- the audience does not view her death, but the news of her death is brought by another character in the form of a song.
Marketing The Muse
"Ophelia's Muse" is a name I created to describe what might have been the inspiration for Ophelia's final death song, as well as the bawdy blatantly sexual songs she performed for other characters in the play.
I ask these questions of The Muse:
What drives a woman to try to please men at all costs?Ophelia's Muse webzine publishes works that explore the themes of madness, jealousy, anger, death, loss, codependency, addiction, sex, love, lust, fear and heartache, as well as love and healing and hope. Most of the works in this webzine are sexually explicit, or sensual in nature. Why? Because sex is powerful, emotional stuff. Sex is what matters. Sex is taboo. Sex drives us to do all sorts of crazy things.
There was no market for "sad, sexy stories". The erotica market wanted sexy stories that sold well, the erotic romance market wanted happy endings, the literary market wanted less explicit and sex-centric writing. I created Ophelia's Muse to house these works, to act as an archive for these little masterpieces that dare to blend seemingly incongruent subjects and turn out sensual art that is wholly human.
It is my sincere wish that The Muse inspires you to take
a look into your own soul and find a place where madness lies, where heartache
lives, and to live through it, to heal from it, to rise above it like the
Phoenix from the ashes: to be reborn.
Ophelia's Muse Established 05.01