Paul Albert Steck, Ophelia, 1895

Ophelia is a character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet; she is the daughter of Polonius, the king’s council. Polonius orders her to reject prince Hamlet’s advances when she tells him the story of how Hamlet showed up at her bed chamber half-dressed and acting crazy (in Hamlet’s defense, he had just seen the ghost of his father who was murdered by his uncle Claudius). Polonius makes Ophelia return Hamlet’s love letters and Hamlet harshly rebuffs her. Later, Hamlet accidentally stabs Polonius through a curtain, thinking he was Claudius. When Ophelia learns of this she goes mad with grief and wanders off. She is later found drowned, although it is unclear whether her death was an accident as a result of her madness or whether it was suicide.

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