|John William Waterhouse's painting Ophelia (1894)|
Sheri McCord, Ph.D., will present "'Small Herbs Have Grace': Ophelia's Botanical Language" from noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, in McGannon Hall, room 144.
Everyone is welcome. Bring your lunches.
Refreshments will be provided.
About the talk:
Ophelia has long been portrayed as an authentically mad character, and she is thus set into comparison with Hamlet who "acts" mad.
However, her antics may be more purposeful than at once suggested.
By analyzing the botanicals in act 4.5 of Shakespeare's Hamlet, McCord debunks the idea that she is mad and suicidal. Instead, McCord argues that Ophelia employs the emblematic nature of the botanicals she hands out to the other characters: rosemary, daisies, fennel, columbines, rue, pansies, and violets (which have died with her father, Polonius).
A kind of feminized language to communicate grief, Ophelia's message is interpreted as a "document in madness" (4.5.156), yet it need not be considered mad speech.
To further understand how this language heals and harms Ophelia, McCord analyzes these specific botanicals and their properties to cure and poison in the context of early modern pharmacology.