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Ophelia

This song is by The Tear Garden and appears on the album Tired Eyes Slowly Burning (1987).

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Crawling through the minefield
We never saw the signs
The lightning flashes thunder claps
Oh is it just a dream Ophelia
Saw the dark clouds rolling
Scavengers revolving as we
Made love on a log in the fog
Is it just a dream Ophelia
There was just a hint of searchlight
It illuminates a pair of lonely souls locked together
Is it just our dream Ophelia
Trying hard to hide
To melt away but rolling for a
Gallery of eyes
Watching waiting
Is it just our dream Ophelia
And love is blind
It cracks its stick across our fingers
Makes us bleed It makes us sick
Is it just our dream Ophelia
Water's boiling but the need is strong
And we have to swim
Let's find an island find a log
That maybe we'll call home
Our home Ophelia
Do you think that we can make it on our own
Our dream Ophelia

AnnotationsEdit

Ophelia (1)

Crawling through the minefield (2)
We never saw the signs
The lightning flashes thunder claps
Oh is it just a dream Ophelia (3)
Saw the dark clouds rolling
Scavengers revolving as we
Made love on a log in the fog
Is it just a dream Ophelia
There was just a hint of searchlight
It illuminates a pair of lonely souls locked together
Is it just our dream Ophelia
Trying hard to hide
To melt away but rolling for a
gallery of eyes
watching waiting
Is it just our dream Ophelia
And love is blind
It cracks its stick across our fingers (4)
Makes us bleed It makes us sick (5)
Is it just our dream Ophelia
Water's boiling but the need is strong
And we have to swim (6)
Let's find an island find a log
That maybe we'll call home (7)
Our home Ophelia
Do you think that we can make it on our own
Our dream Ophelia (8)

(1) Ophelia is a fictional character in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. She is a young noblewoman of Denmark, the daughter of Polonius, sister of Laertes, and sweetheart of Prince Hamlet.

In Ophelia's first speaking appearance in the play, we see her with her brother, Laertes, who is leaving for France. Laertes lectures Ophelia against getting involved with Hamlet. He warns her that Hamlet does not have his free will as he is the heir of Denmark so does not have freedom to marry whomever he wants. Ophelia's father, Polonius, enters while Laertes is leaving, and Polonius also admonishes Ophelia against Hamlet, because he fears Hamlet is not earnest about her. Polonius concludes by forbidding Ophelia to have any further communication with Hamlet. She agrees to obey her father and to avoid Hamlet entirely.

In Ophelia's next appearance, she tells Polonius that Hamlet rushed into her room with his clothing askew, and with a 'hellish' expression on his face, and only stared at her, without speaking to her. Based on what Ophelia tells him, about Hamlet acting in such a "mad" way, Polonius concludes that he was wrong to forbid Ophelia to see Hamlet, and that Hamlet must be mad because of lovesickness for Ophelia. Polonius immediately decides to go to Claudius (the new King of Denmark, and also Hamlet's uncle and stepfather) about the situation. We later see Polonius suggest to Claudius that they can hide behind an arras to overhear Hamlet speaking to Ophelia, when Hamlet thinks the conversation is private. Since Polonius is now sure Hamlet is lovesick for Ophelia, he thinks Hamlet will express love for Ophelia. Claudius agrees to try the eavesdropping plan later. The plan leads to what is commonly called the 'Nunnery Scene'.

In the 'Nunnery Scene' Polonius instructs Ophelia to stand in the lobby of the castle, while he and Claudius hide behind. Hamlet enters the room, in a different world from the others, and recites his "To be, or not to be" soliloquy. Hamlet approaches Ophelia and talks to her. He famously tells her "get thee to a nunnery." Hamlet becomes angry, realizes he's gone too far, and says "I say there will be no more marriage", and exits. Ophelia is left bewildered, scared, and heartbroken, sure that Hamlet is crazy. After Hamlet storms out, Ophelia makes her "O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown" soliloquy.

The next time Ophelia appears is at the 'Mousetrap Play' which Hamlet has arranged to try to prove that Claudius killed King Hamlet. Hamlet sits with Ophelia and makes sexually suggestive remarks, also saying that woman's love is brief.

Later that night, after the play, Hamlet kills Polonius - thinking Polonius is Claudius ("Is it the King?")- during a private meeting between Hamlet and his mother, Queen Gertrude. At Ophelia's next appearance, after her father's death, she has gone mad, due to what the other characters interpret as grief over her father. She talks in riddles and rhymes, sings some "mad" and bawdy songs about death and a maiden losing her virginity. After bidding everyone a "good night", she exits.

The final time Ophelia in the play is after Laertes comes to the castle to challenge Claudius over the death of his father, Polonius. Ophelia sings more songs and hands out flowers, citing their symbolic meanings although interpretations of the meanings differ. Then she blesses everyone and exits for the last time.

In Act 4 Scene 7, Queen Gertrude, in a famous monologue (There is a willow grows aslant the brook), reports that Ophelia had climbed into a willow tree, and then a branch broke and dropped Ophelia into the brook, where she drowned. Gertrude says that Ophelia appeared "incapable of her own distress" like a mad person would be. Gertrude's announcement of Ophelia's death is one of the most poetic death announcements in literature.

We later see a sexton at the graveyard insisting Ophelia must have killed herself, however, although the sexton attempts to argue the point logically and legally, he never says how he would know it as a fact. The cleric who presides at Ophelia's funeral later asserts that she should have been buried in unsanctified ground as a suicide, but he doesn't say how he knows facts about it, either. Laertes is outraged by what the cleric says, and replies that Ophelia will be an angel in heaven when the cleric "liest howling" (with the fiends in hell). The remarks by the sexton and the cleric have naturally led to a great deal of discussion of whether Ophelia committed suicide. Between Gertrude's report of an accident, and the later talk of suicide, the suicide issue is left unclear in the play, so that even after four centuries since the play was written, the issue is still a topic of debate.

At Ophelia's funeral, Queen Gertrude sprinkles flowers on Ophelia's grave ("sweets to the sweet,") and says she wished Ophelia could have been Hamlet's wife. Laertes then jumps into Ophelia's grave excavation, asking for the burial to wait until he has held her in his arms one last time, and proclaims how much he loved her. Hamlet, nearby, then challenges Laertes, and claims that he loved Ophelia more than "forty thousand" brothers could. After her funeral scene, there is no further mention of Ophelia.

Ophelia in the sense that Edward has written is probably a reflection of the character from the song "Frosty" as he "Plays Hamlet for a fortnight".

(2) Edward's lyrics are often full of war metaphors - sometimes referring to actual war destruction, and sometimes to other, subtler wars. Here, the minefield is possibly a metaphor for all the obstacles that stand in the way of these two lovers being together.

(3) Is it just a dream is a powerful question. Can life be proven not to be a dream? This instance is probably aimed at whether or not the love between the two lovers is real. It is reflected in several liner notes and other lyrics - most notably from "The Fool" which posits: "A Dream is a Dream - No Matter, No Meaning - A Dream is A Dream, But It's Real at the Time"

(4) See the lyrics to the song "Sensory Deprivation"

(5) Bleeding here is most likely in the sense of letting emotional sympathy pour out, which is used in phrases like "Bleeding heart". To let one "bleed" for too long can lead to heartsickness - a type of profound dissapointment and despondency.

(6) Water boiling and the need to swim could refer to the manner in which Shakespeare's Ophelia could have died. Also, if someone is in hot water, people are angry with them and they are likely to be punished, so it seems that these lovers are running and hiding from some pursuers who illuminate the pair with a "hint" of searchlight, and watch them with a "gallery of eyes".

(7) Many of Edward's lyrics speak of finding an "island", where conditions are favourable and sheltered from the rest of the world. The song "Golden Dawn" from the Legendary Pinnk Dots album "AsYlum" is similar. The sense of "home" could be felt in the song "Home" from the Legendary Pink Dots album "The Maria Dimension".

(8) "Our Dream", as in note (3), is a phrase often seen in Edward's lyrics and liner notes, sometimes seeming to speak of a dream of two lovers growing old together or a more general "our" speaking of the plans of a small group of people to try and make the world into a better place.

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