Wherefore Art Thou Meaning?

"Wherefore Art Thou Meaning?" Many times while reading Shakespeare this is the main question on my mind. Through my own pondering & writing and hopefully some comments from others, I hope to find some answers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Webinar Final



This class has been so much fun, and I have learned a lot along the way from amazing people in my class.  Everyone did such a great job presenting today!  I loved that we were even able to intrigue a participant enough to ask us questions via webcam.  He had a lot of really interesting input and opened up many aspects of our discussion.

My presentation was a little rough.  Doing a puppet show by using the screen and no floor (which allows for extra movement of the marionette) proved difficult, but it turned out alright.  It was neat to see people interested in my topic and the projects that I have been working on this year.

Dr. Burton teaches us that it is okay to put our ideas out there and to learn from the ideas of others, especially through social connections on the Internet.  Tonight was no exception.  We had around 50 participants.  It is pretty neat that so many people were interested in what a few college students had to say about literature and digital culture.  We experienced a few participants who were not really there to add to the learning experience, but to distract and cause problems, called trolls.  However, all they accomplished was giving us a few good laughs during our final. :)

This class has been an amazing experience, because it is made up of amazing people with amazing ideas, taught by an amazing teacher trying get us to think out of the box of traditional learning experiences and DO something with our education to make a difference in the World Wide Web.

Thank you everyone!  It has been a pleasure. 

Prezi Presentation



Puppets!


Here you go!


Looking Back



This year has been a crazy one for me.  I have dealt with some difficult trials in life, including getting sick, which is especially hard when that sickness comes at the most important time of the semester.  But along the way I had great family and friends for support, found and married my prince charming, and had an awesome professor who was very understanding.  These are some of the things I have learned from my Engl 382 class and through my participation in the Engl 295 class (which I took myself during Spring 2011 and loved, hence the return for more of Dr. Burton's learning through technology methods):



Phase 1, Paper: Brainstorm, Ponder, Listen, Plan, Action

While reading multiple works of Shakespeare, which I lacked a love of, I began to think, "What am I going to write about in my research paper?"  My brainstorming was not as successful as it could have been, until I read a Manga (or Western Graphic Novel, depending on who you ask) version of Hamlet.  I saw two pictures showing Ophelia drowning that were quite haunting and intriguing.  One of my roommates was quite interested in Manga, so I talked with her about it.  Another roommate chimed in about another picture of Ophelia, which I viewed and found just as interesting.  The idea hit me, "Why not write about Ophelia?"  Then, true brainstorming began of what angle I wanted to take on Ophelia since there are many views of her character and her drowning.  I found different ways to explore Ophelia through academic research papers, along with multiple media formats.  Then, I wrote and finished my paper.  That was the end of phase one. Before you could blink, the PROJECT began.  Dr. Burton suggested some ideas in my interview with him, one of which stuck: comparing the rigid format of the research paper to the control the men in Hamlet had over her thoughts, words, and actions.



Phase 2, Project(s): Brainstorm, Ponder, Listen, Plan, Action

Since I was unable to complete all the requirements for my class, I returned to participate in the Engl 295 class that I had taken during spring 2011.  Dr. Burton had helped me brainstorm an idea, and I went with it.  After thinking about how I could show the ideas I was thinking about, I came up with two projects: creating a puppet show to show the aspect of control over Ophelia and turn my traditional academic research paper into an eBook or presentation to show how media could add value to the ideas expressed in my paper and engage the reader more fully in my ideas.  I had the pleasure of working with Alan Hickey and Jen Winterton in a cohort where we were able to help each other more fully develop our ideas.  Three great experiences with this group was meeting together at the JFSB to exchange ideas and get input from one another, trying Google+ Hangout in order to talk about our ideas again, which turned into an eye-opening experience (we made it public and suddenly our conversation was overrun with people, one man being really interested in Alan's thoughts on 1984, by George Orwell), and being able to use a Google Doc to keep each other updated on our class discussions when a member of our cohort was unable to make it to class.  The Google Doc was also a great tool to quickly share interesting research we had found for one another.  Google+ has become a great tool in order to share my ideas on Ophelia and to share my own blog posts and view the blog posts of my fellow classmates.  It was neat to have that stream of posts and information right there, waiting for my mouse click. :)  With my presentation, I added many different mediums, some of them being my own work (see previous posts: animationpoem 1, and poem 2), to my Prezi Presentation to add creativity in order to help spark interest in my ideas.  As, I worked on my Presentation through Prezi, I got great feedback, and reformed it in order to make it a better experience for my reader/viewer.  Many classmates have been excited for my puppet show, and I documented the process of creating the characters to increase the level of anticipation.  Everything began to come together for both projects, which was greatly because of the help of those in my class, those who have been reading my posts, and Oliver AhMu (my husband) who helped make everything possible through his help and support. :)  Thank you all!

p.s. The Puppet Show will be posted soon and will also be found in my Prezi Presentation!





Monday, June 11, 2012

My Final Draft



Ophelia Drowning: Cleansing Herself of Social Roles

Ophelia is often portrayed as the poor little obedient girl “who lost it” with the death of her father.  This madness was a result of her loss of identity.  She relied on her father, Polonius, to make her decisions, only because he left her with no other choice.  Her father and the other men in her life had made all of her decisions for her and even told her what to say.  In result of this strong control over her, Ophelia struggled to find freedom even after the loss of her father.  Ophelia killing herself through drowning is a symbol of cleansing herself from the social roles and abuse that she had taken for so long; she was freeing herself from the world.  
“Frailty, thy name is woman.”  The 1948 movie adaptation of Hamlet stayed close to the text and gave good insight into the character of Ophelia.  However, I disagree with the movie and text that frailty is always a feminine attribute.  Ophelia is physically presented as a little girl with braids in the movie adaptation, going along with the presentations of many of her as a good little girl, always obedient to the will of the men in her life.  In the case of Ophelia, I am arguing that she was not frail or weak; she was simply never allowed any control over her life except at the end when she ended it (Olivier).  
“From the first, Ophelia’s psychic identity appears externally defined, socially constructed.  Although every human psyche might be said, from a psychoanalytic perspective, to be constructed largely as a result of social interactions, Ophelia’s unique development has given her an especially permeable psyche (Dane 406).”  Ophelia was motherless and completely controlled by the men around her.  She had been shaped to conform to the desires of others.  Her name derives from the Greek word for “help” or “greatest possible succor,” which is how men viewed her, a help to accomplish what they wanted.   Ophelia has been described as “that piece of bait named Ophelia.”  She was used, abused, and confused.  Her father, lover, brother, and king were all manipulating her and sending her contradictory messages (Dane 406).

“Both brother and father smother Ophelia in an incestuous stranglehold, each the self-appointed tutor of her moral, intellectual, even psychological development (Dane 407).”  When Ophelia begins to receive attentions form the Prince, both her father and brother become alarmed.  Hamlet and Ophelia’s relationship cannot possibly result in marriage, so they know the only result of the courtship would be disgrace.  The two men feel that Hamlet’s intentions are dishonorable.  And if Ophelia were to become pregnant, she would be ruined.  Laertes and Polonius know that a Prince is a persuasive suitor who may well be able to lead the virtuous woman in their family to go astray (Jenkins 209).  To Laertes, Ophelia is a chaste woman, and he sees it as his responsibility to protect her from the clutches of men.  He decides to teach his sister about dreaded male advances, “Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister (Shakespeare 1.3.33).”  Ophelia answers her brother’s arguments about Hamlet’s intentions with questions (1.3.4-10).  Her questions open a protective space in which her thoughts remain private.  Laertes continues to give her instruction to stay away from Hamlet.  She never says that she will listen, but we know that she will obey her brother when it comes to her relationship with Hamlet.  However, her brother cannot change her thoughts and feelings for the Prince (Finkelstein 6-7).
Shakespeare’s plays often play more to father-daughter tensions than those between brother and sister.  Polonius is overly involved with his daughter’s love life, not only because he desires to advance politically, but also in the need to identify himself as a father.  In Polonius’s mind, he unites him and his daughter as one, saying “think yourself a baby (1.3.1056)”.  Polonius is attached to his daughter for his own gain; he shows no investment in Ophelia as a daughter, but only as an asset (Finkelstein 7).  When Ophelia’s father tells her not to spend time with Hamlet or to think of Hamlet, she simply listens to her father and obliges to follow his command.  This is only because her father does not give her a chance to choose.  Right after getting the command, she goes off and begins to think upon the wonderful Hamlet who has written her a love note, but her dad immediately appears and tells her to stop (Olivier).  He warns her that if she should act for herself, she will “tender [him] a fool” (1.3.109).  After keeping her from the Prince for days, he submits her to him, in order to prove his loyalty to the new king (3.1.4).  After Ophelia has been verbally and very likely physically assaulted by Hamlet through Polonius’s little love test, the king and councilor speak for seventeen lines before Polonius remembers to notice his daughter.  They then leave the room, offering no help to the hurt Ophelia.  To Polonius, his daughter, his lure, has served her purpose and is of no further use to him (3.2.109).  Wholly unconcerned with Ophelia’s needs, Polonius manipulates both her mind and her body to gratify his love of power.  Ophelia’s brother and father retard Ophelia’s psychic growth through their harsh usage of her, stifling her personal development to satisfy their own life (Dane 408).
Ophelia’s lover also disregards her needs for his own.  Hamlet visits Ophelia.  He is obviously flustered.  Hamlet grabs Ophelia and holds her hard, but then he holds her at arm’s length.  Hamlet attacks her emotions for him, sending her mixed messages of his own love.  He tells her that he has never loved her.  Any person who was so emotionally tossed around by men her whole life would certainly have issues with her own feelings.  He figures that Ophelia has been acting autonomously which he believes is wrong after the actions of his mother; in result, he becomes violently abusive toward her.  Ironically, she had been acting completing obediently to the will of men; the very thing that Hamlet wanted.  
People rely on their family and friends as a constant for them of love and support.  Instead, Ophelia’s father tells Hamlet’s parents that Hamlet is mad and shows Hamlet’s love letter for Ophelia.  They concoct a plan to show Hamlet at his worst, displaying his contrast of feelings for Ophelia, giving no consideration to the effect this will have on Ophelia.  She returns a favor he gave her.  Hamlet then begins to say that he loved her once, but that she should not have believed him.  He commands her to go to a nunnery, comparing her to a whore.  The way Hamlet talks to her is violent and commanding.  He pushes Ophelia roughly, says that there should be no more marriages, and leaves her crying on the floor after kissing her hand.  Then Hamlet’s uncle and Ophelia’s dad appear from behind the curtain.  Not even caring about her feelings, they go on with their plans to destroy Hamlet.  The end of part one has Ophelia lying on the stairs, looking up into the distance while sobbing.  Her father and the man that claimed to love her both hurt her in this scene and neither offers her any form of comfort.  For Ophelia, there is no support system which would suggest a result of low self-worth (Olivier).
“Indeed with her identity constructed always in reference to another, Ophelia is, in essence, nothing, an empty cipher patiently waiting to be infused with whatever meaning the particular mathematician should require.  Lacking personal ego boundaries of her own, Ophelia seems compelled to absorb whatever psychic identity is thrust upon her (Dane 410-411).”  Ophelia does not know how to think for herself, because she has never been allowed this great privilege. Male voices fill her head, guiding her every thought.  With her brother in France, and her lover suddenly banished to England for the murder of her father, the voices stop.  “Confronted with such a thunderous silence, Ophelia becomes mad (Dane 411).”
Ophelia begins to ramble, a sign that she no longer knows what to say without her father’s guidance.  The mad songs that Ophelia begins to sing reflect on all the major issues of the play.  Each “fragment of a popular ballad (4.5.23-40)” contains numerous levels of accusation and mourning, along with protest and longing (Dane 414).  The first song mourns for her father and accuses of a hasty burial, indicts Gertrude for no distinguishing between lovers, and the longing for her banished love, Hamlet (Dane 414-415).  Ophelia is enacting a funeral- but not simply in her father’s honor- with her lamentation, accompanied by her distribution of flowers (Dane 417).  Ophelia gives the appropriate flowers to each party.  To Laertes, she gives rosemary and pansies which signify remembrance and thoughts, because she wants to be remembered by him.  Gertrude receives fennel and columbines which represent marital infidelity.   Ophelia gives King Claudius rue and a daisy, which stand for repentance and a love doomed to be unhappy.  This makes it appear that she was staging an elaborate elegy in honor of the whole company.  Dane quotes Cherrell Guilfoyle, who suggests that these flowers were funeral flowers to be handed to those who would shortly die- the King, the Queen, Laertes, and herself (Dane 417).
Dane asks the question that although Ophelia found a way in which to express her frustrations and protest against the community’s wrongdoings, has Ophelia really found “an autonomous voice, a discrete self?”  Even though Ophelia’s not-so-random ramblings express how Ophelia feels, Ophelia is still speaking in quotation.  Her voice is still fragmented through the words of others.  Her father, brother, and lover may no longer tell her exactly how to think, speak, and act, but Ophelia is now speaking through ordinary but disjointed speech comprised of popular ballads, traditional legends, routine pieties, even familiar expressions of greeting and farewell (Dane 419).  
Ophelia’s final mad scene, when she disperses funeral flowers to the company, may be seen as a determined farewell.  Rue was the flower that Ophelia presented to herself.  This flower signifies repentance, which seems appropriate for a woman contemplating her own death.  Through this interaction with those who should care about her, you can see her trying to make that final connection that those close to suicide tend to make, remember me.  Even that last cry for help does not solicit a reaction from those she reaches out to.  
Ophelia does not know how to speak for herself through her own thoughts.   By losing her father’s iron-clad guidance, Ophelia has lost part of her identity.  She no longer knows how to function.  I imagine this would be a lot like having someone guide you through a place that is dark and unfamiliar to you, for them only to leave you at the most difficult part of the journey.  The fear or the unknown is terrifying.  A fear of identity theft through the use of the vast Internet is frightening to many people.  For the most part, the Internet is a guide, a useful tool, but we are becoming reliant on this technology to the point that we will often rather turn to the Internet for an automatic answer rather than take the time to contemplate the question in our own mind.  The Internet, like Polonius (who should have been a good father and a good guide), can turn on you.  Many people use the Internet as a weapon to hurt others and steal identities.  How lost would each of us be if our information was stolen on the Internet?  Would you ever be able to trust another source of information again?  These examples of fear are comparable to how Ophelia would have felt to lose her sources of guidance.  Ophelia, however, did not know how to function without this guidance.  Instead, she chooses to end her life.
Ophelia’s drowning was an act of partial self-awareness.  The question then must be asked if her death was a deliberate act, a suicide.  In Hamlet, the gravedigger says if the water comes to the man, “he drowns not himself.”  But if the “man go to this water”…?  The gravedigger concludes that it is quite simple: “He that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life (5.1.15-20).”  The accounts from Gertrude and the gravedigger leave room for interpretation.  The most that Shakespeare gave in his words of Ophelia’s purpose was her unwillingness to resist succumbing to a watery grave (Dane 422).”
Dane and I suggest that in the reflection of the water, Ophelia finally recognizes who she is and decides to merge with it.  After struggling with her first experience to express her feelings, Ophelia emerges to make her first autonomous choice (Dane 423).  “Ophelia decides that in order authentically “to be” she must choose “not to be (Dane 423).””  As Ophelia floats down the river, she begins to sing, and then she drowns.  Singing is a source of comfort.  Ophelia uses this to allow her to follow through with the decision she has made (Olivier).  
Dane says, “While the notion that suicide becomes the only possible route to autonomy for this woman is undeniably tragic, Ophelia’s choice might be seen as the only courageous- indeed rational- death in Shakespeare’s bloody drama (Dane 423).”  Ophelia decides to commit suicide in order to release herself from the power and manipulation that the men in her life had over her.   Ophelia’s dressing in white symbolizes her innocence and her desire to be cleansed.  Faith is also usually represented by the color of white, so her white dress can be her hope for a better situation through her death.
Ophelia was not frail, but she was pushed to the point where only her frail persona remained.  She could no longer keep up the fa├žade to keep everyone happy but herself.  Ophelia chose to allow herself to escape the bonds of social roles.  She could no longer let herself be the obedient daughter and young woman who did everything she was told.  Ophelia could make this one choice without experiencing any social consequences.  The sense of resulting freedom from the choice she was about to make allowed Ophelia the power to follow through with her own first true decision.  She cleansed herself from the power her world had over her by choosing not to be (Olivier).
2,396 Words





Works Cited
Dane, Gabrielle. “Reading Ophelia’s Madness.” Exemplaria 10 (1998): 405-23.
Finkelstein, Richard. “Differentiating Hamlet: Ophelia and the Problems of
Subjectivity.” Renaissance and Reformation 21.2 (Spring 1997): 5-22.
Jenkins, Ronald Bradford. “The Case Against the King: The Family of Ophelia vs. His Majesty
King Claudius of Denmark.” Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 17.3-4 (Aug. 1996): 206-18.
Hamlet. Dir. Olivier, Laurence Kerr. Prod. Laurence Kerr Olivier. Perf. Laurence Kerr Olivier, et al. Film. Two Cities Film, 1948. February 18, 2012 <http://ativ.alexanderstreet.com.erl.lib.byu.edu/view/657516>.
William Shakespeare 1564-1616. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Eds. Barbara A Mowat, Paul Werstine, and Folger Shakespeare Library. New York: Washington Square Press, 2004, c1992. Print. Hamlet .

Friday, May 25, 2012

E-paper- 1st Draft- Thoughts?

Here is the first draft of my interactive e-paper idea.  Let me know what you think.  What would you like to see there?  How can I improve the flow and interactivity of the paper?  Constructive criticism will be much appreciated.





Marionette and Hand Puppet...Complete!!!

Here is Ophelia, fully constructed.  Oliver decided to hang her up on the cupboard knob.
It was a lot harder to make her than we thought it would be.

Here is Hamlet, who Oliver thought was a king when he was forming the frame for him.  Who does not  love a fat future king for an antagonist?  :)
Hamlet in his black outfit (kind of looks like a black straight jacket, coincidence...maybe)
Ophelia with a fancy red dress
Close up
My awesome fiance- he worked hard
I think the paint fumes started to get to him.
Ophelia completed- Oliver was pretty happy about it.
Here she is!


Hamlet now has a face.


Now, we are about ready to perform and film.  These took a lot of work, but I am excited to perform the show.  I hope you will all enjoy it!