Submitted 8 months ago by Jessicat
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Stitch Stories - Ophelia is a charater from Hamlet which is one of Shakespeare's plays.
Sew your song! - 'Ophelia' is also a song by Natalie Merchant.
Ophelia: The Inspiration
Ophelia is one of the pivotal characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet. She is widely regarded as a tragic heroine. Ophelia, is a beautiful young woman. She is the daughter of Polonius, the sister of Laertes, and Hamlet's love interest. In the play, Ophelia is torn between her obedience to her father and her love for Hamlet the result of this battle between love and duty tragic consequences for the character.
Throughout the play she is accused of a variety of unbecoming qualities as well as those with more positive connotations. This has led to Ophelia being understood as a character with many dimensions. The song Ophelia by Natalie Merchant plays upon these contradictory qualities in an exploration of womanhood.
Here is a link to the music video:
Ophelia: The Dress
Inspired by the words of the play:
Looking at the quotes from the play Ophelia is shown to wear billowing clothes that spread wide and made her float mermaid-like. The skirt component of the dress reflects this billowed quality with double layer skirt of which the top layer is tulle. At the back of the skirt small pleats are made in the tulle layer both to add interest and to increase the skirts billowy and fluttery quality.
The shape of the skirt is that of a bell or flower which reflects Shakespeares use of the language of flowers in order to give a voice to Ophelias emotions.
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples....
Inspired by the character:
The character's innocence is reflected in the simplicity of the front of the dress. While the back of the bodice is complete with pleats and folds and areas that are hidden. This complexity is not obvious at face value (on the front) but only becomes apparent as you continue to look at the dress. This reflects the increasingly complicated situation of Ophelia as the play continues.
The end of the zip is hidden at the point where the two pleated panels are crossed over.
In the play Ophelias life is at an intersection where her love for Hamlet is crossed by her duty to her father and family. In doing so Ophelia leaves some truths hidden from her love Hamlet and her motives are ultimately obscured.
The aim of the dress design is to reflect these contradictory qualities associated with the character.
The dress has subsequently been designed to have a number of different options from the more modest to the more seductive.
The longer length skirt and the lace sleeves on the dress provide a more modest combination. In this way, it reflects Ophelias youth and innocence. The pale pink of the water lily is used in the drawings to emphasis this and is often a flower used in representations and paintings of her.
The shorter skirt provides a more seductive take on the character (reflecting Hamlets accusations) and with or without sleeves it also reflects some of the more contemporary understandings of the character (as reflected by Natalie Merchants song).
Perhaps a version of the dress with the shorter skirt and no sleeves could be made in black fabric. This could add a further dimension and reflect the notions that prompted Hamlet to shout at her - Get thee to a nunnery. Plus, it would look really cute on a night out!
For more information on the design:
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