Shakespearean plays often leave mild gaps in between its words to allow boundless speculations and hypotheses regarding each character’s structure and intentions. Lisa Klein makes perfect use of Shakespeare’s ambiguity and proceeds to boldly restate the tragedy of Hamlet in a fresh way through Ophelia’s eyes, emphasizing on the missing portions of love between Ophelia and Hamlet, giving more depth to Polonius other than an ambitious yet foolish father, revealing more personal emotions of Horatio’s other than his one-dimensional character as a loyal and honest friend to Hamlet, explaining Gertrude’s true feelings and actions, and most importantly, defending Ophelia’s own character as a witty and dynamic character rather than the empty flowerpot she is typically credited as in film adaptations.
Unlike the original “Hamlet”, Klein chose to write “Ophelia” in the form of a novel, using a first person perspective, instead of a play, which turned out to be a wonderful choice. Ophelia, in the novel, is extremely emotionally passionate and thoughtful, and she undergoes many abrupt emotional shifts, thus writing in a novel format allows more engagement in her thoughts, as opposed to if this rendition was just a play of pure dialogue.
Klein’s speculation that Ophelia is factually an intelligent character is hardly beyond reason because with Hamlet being such an aggressive and witty character himself, if Ophelia was indeed just another pretty face, why would he have fallen in love with her?
The novel begins from Ophelia’s childhood, and reveals that she had actually known and been attracted to Hamlet from young. Structuring the tale this way builds the romance between Hamlet and Ophelia to a fuller extent, as opposed to the play, only mentioning the relationship between the two to a minimal slight. Klein also proceeds to answer the question of whether Hamlet loved Ophelia at all, with his aggression of demanding to get to a nunnery. Besides the romance, beginning the tale at an earlier time period before the play did paints each character more plentifully, such as Claudius and Gertrude, and gives a better explanation to why the events to come came out the way they did.
Most importantly, Klein made another speculation about Ophelia: What if Ophelia did not die like everyone thought she did? How did she escape with her life? And how will she live after she dashes from Elsinore… with her very dangerous secret?...Continua