Songs For Every Book

Songs for Every Book: An Alternative Happy Ending for Ophelia

Ophelia waterline hope alternate ending

If tragedies were dark chocolate, Hamlet would be 87% cacao — at least!

Starting with Scene 1, Hamlet’s dad is murdered, his mom marries his evil uncle, and Hamlet himself sends off his childhood buddies to be murdered. Casual. At the end basically everyone dies, including Hamlet and his love interest, Ophelia (…AND his mom AND his uncle AND Polonius AND you get the idea).

For me, Ophelia’s suicide by drowning is one of the most tragic deaths of the play, though. While all the deaths are truly awful, she’s more of a bystander than actively embroiled in all the nasty craziness. She’s doing her best, but can you imagine watching your boyfriend go insane and then hearing that said boyfriend killed your dad??

But what if Ophelia pulled through?

What if she had been able to find strength in those who loved her, and/or strength in God? What if she had been able to keep from drowning, despite feeling completely submerged (an image both figural and, in her case, literal)?

If she had, I think it might have gone something like this:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/29X2SbrWVW3AKrM9wStY4j

Waterline by GRANT

…Start spreading the news
I’m on my way up again
I’ve tripped, I tripped but I’ve dodged the end
Do-do-do, do-do-do do me wrong
But I’m not drowning.
I’m breaking the waves
I’m falling for love again
I tripped, I trip but I dodge the end
I’m deep down under the waterline
But I’m not drowning
I’m not drowning…

There you have it: a hopeful, alternative ending for Ophelia. Because while I do love dark chocolate (whether it’s the written kind or the yummy, eatable kind), sometimes a powerful, hope-filled belting song is just what the doctor ordered!

What other songs have you heard that remind you of Ophelia, whether true-to-the-play or alternatively-hopeful? Let me know in the comments below!

***

You might also like: 

Classical Music Stories: Anna Karenina’s Mental Illness

Classical Music Stories: Ophelia and Mozart

If Shakespeare’s Characters Were High School Stereotypes

Plus, check out more Songs for Every Book here.

4 thoughts on “Songs for Every Book: An Alternative Happy Ending for Ophelia”

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