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OPHELIA ~ A TORMENTED SOUL

blankOphelia (second version) 1863

Arthur Hughes (1832-1915)

Ophelia in literature

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostojevski , in the first chapter of his 1880 masterpiece The Brothers Karamazov, described a capricious young woman who committed suicide by throwing herself off a steep cliff into a river, simply to imitate Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Dostoevsky concludes that “Even then, if the cliff, chosen and cherished from long ago, had not been so picturesque, if it had been merely a flat, prosaic bank, the suicide might not have taken place at all.” Dostoevksy also depicts the heroine Grushenka as Ophelia, binding the two through the words “Woe is me!” in the chapter entitled “The First Torment.”

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