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Chapter 4 - ‘Too Much of Water’: Ophelia, Photography, Dissolution

from Part II - Iconography, Photography, and Hamlet

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2019

Sally Barnden
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

The final two chapters offer different kinds of case study, examining specific, much-repeated compositions across the whole history of photography from the nineteenth century to the present. This chapter analyses the legacy in photographs of John Everett Millais’ painting Ophelia (1851), with a focus on the representation of women’s bodies in representations of Ophelia’s death by drowning in Hamlet. I look at works by Gregory Crewdson, Tom Hunter, Ana Mendieta, Toshiko Okanoue, Francesca Woodman, and Man Ray. I argue that photographs have contributed to the pathologising of Ophelia as a ‘complex’ or diagnosis, and as a means of representing female distress as an aesthetic pleasure.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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