sixpenceee:

“Ophelia” by Sir John Everett Millais

The painting depicts Ophelia singing while floating in a river just before she drowns. The scene is described in Act IV, Scene VII of Hamlet in a speech by Queen Gertrude. The episode depicted is not seen onstage, but exists only in Gertrude’s description. Ophelia has fallen into the river from a tree overhanging it, while gathering flowers. 

She lies in the water singing songs, as if unaware of her danger (“incapable of her own distress”). Her clothes, trapping air, have allowed her to temporarily stay afloat (“Her clothes spread wide, / And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up.”). But eventually, “her garments, heavy with their drink, / Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay” down “to muddy death.”

Ophelia’s death has been praised as one of the most poetically written death scenes in literature. (Source)

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