Ophelia painting by John Millais, Ophelia and Hamlet by Shakespeare
As you could see, today we have paid special attention to the Tate Gallery exhibition about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood -it’s strange, in Spanish the translation of ‘brotherhood’ is ‘hermandad’ and it sounds like a tenebrous sect where you can enjoy sadomasochism and another doubtful pleasures-. If you thought this way about Pre-Raphaelites maybe you won’t like the Tate exhibition but if you like elegance and you want to immerse in an ancient world of fresh colors and good stories you will enjoy this exhibition.
Years ago, when I discovered Pre-Raphaelites –and I was disappointed because they weren’t a sadomasochist brotherhood-, I could see the famous Millais’s Ophelia painting in a local exhibition promoted by a bank –maybe that was the reason of my doubtful expectations about a vampire sect, sorry for joking-… Ophelia is one of Shakespeare’s best female characters and we forget her when we talk about the English writer. She was in love and she was just more than a teenager –as Hamlet was, we forget it when we watch time after time an old man declaiming the verses-. Hamlet had, in fact, two great problems, the incestuous love that he felt and the other problem with the assassination of his beloved father… and you know, every time a teenager has a problem, the song hasn’t a happy end and even Romeo and Juliet knew it (by the way, in Spain we have a similar story with The Lovers of Teruel and we have a saying proverb that I would translate ‘he stupid, she stupid’)… (Marginal note 2: years ago, I could enjoy a really great piece of humor, a Romeo and Juliet without Juliet, the whole theatre could laugh with the disastrous playing of the nervous main actor, who felt the tragedy so deep that he began to cry and he couldn’t continue with this sensational play of entertainment and laughs. Yes, Shakespeare can be funny sometimes).
Let’s continue, sorry for the inconvenience. I am thinking now of Urban Tribes and Emo fashion way of life. I know I must respect all the ways of understanding life but I don’t like at all this kind of things. Why suicide, dear Ophelia? You were young and you were… not very clever but I insist, you were… young! As well of her great monologue, Hamlet wasn’t a clever boy neither and, believe me, you could have found another boyfriend even stupider than Hamlet even in those times. In this world we can find many opportunities to be stupid. We can go to an emo concert and, when we were at home, emulate the Pre-Raphaelite philosophy cutting our veins like Kurt Cobain did.
Even in Shakespeare’s time there were teenagers and even the best of writers wrote about teenagers. I must confess: I don’t like teenagers. We can see them screaming and looking for their last lost neurons in each city. Of course I was a teenager, but when I was a teenager I was… wait a minute, I was an absolute stupid but not so stupid as to think about suicide! I love so much the great little pleasures of life –you know, to drink a barrel of whiskey or smoking my pipe, I know these two things kill but I can feel my teenager blood fizzing-.
In any case, forgive me for this article. I know I might consider the problems in any age as serious as I didn’t. I’m sorry, Ophelia, you loved your man and he didn’t love you because he wanted to be with his mommy. If we see the Shakespeare play like this, maybe we can enjoy another aspect of the play: the great sense of humor in a tragedy… and maybe, like Oscar Wilde would like to say:
‘The more tragic fact in this life would be to lose the sense of humor’
Martin Cid, funny smoker
At least we can learn a lesson from Ophelia: if she hadn’t done it, we should lose a great painting. Have a great day!
You can also enjoy Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood gallery with Ophelia painting:
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