Informing Bethany Lutheran College's Spring 2013 Production. Shows at: April 19, 20, 26, 27 at 7:30pm and April 21 at 2pm
You know that scene when Ophelia loses it and shows up to Elsinore Castle looking like a hot mess with an armful of weeds?
Yes, this one.
Yeah, it turns out that flowers were incredibly meaningful during Shakespeare’s time and when Ophelia is handing out flowers she isn’t being totally crazy, she is saying something very specific to her audience.
Rosemary and Pansies: Ophelia gives these flowers to Laertes, she even cites them as being for remembrance and thoughts.
Fennel and Columbine: To the King Claudius, Ophelia gives a brave message. Fennel is the symbol for flattery and columbine is considered the flower for “deceived lovers,” a symbol of male adultery and faithlessness.
Rue: Rue is the symbol for bitterness, thought to be the cause of most abortions in that day, and often connected with adultery. Ophelia gives this flower to the Queen Gertrude as well as keeping some for herself.
Daisy: Ophelia picks up and sets down the daisy without giving it to anyone. This is interesting because the daisy is the symbol of innocence and gentleness. Evidently Ophelia thought there was no place for innocence in the Danish court anymore.
Violets: Finally, Ophelia says that she would have brought violets but that they all withered when her father died. This is a fascinating note for Ophelia to leave on because violets are the symbol for faithfulness and fidelity.
There you have it, Ophelia’s monologue is not just a chaotic ramble about flowers, but a very specific set of accusations spoken out of extreme grief.
Lydia Grabau, Dramaturg