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Showalter, Representing Ophelia (abstract)

  • Elaine Showalter. "Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism." Shakespeare and the Question of Theory. Ed. Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman. New York: Routledge, 1993. 77–94.
AN INTERESTING feminist reading of the tradition of the representation of Ophelia. Showalter does an excellent job of locating the paintings within their historical context and of explicating them as indices of their period's attitudes about women and feminine sexuality; the historical development is fascinating and well written. The study is unique among these selections in its attention to a single character. Limitations: Showalter doesn't go very far beyond the historical argument she's made to theorize about it at all. The title mentions the "responsibilities of feminist criticism," but the article does not follow through on that implied promise in a very satisfactory way. (Rachel Mines.)

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Michael Hancher
Department of English, University of Minnesota
URL: <http://mh.cla.umn.edu/txtimrm.html>
Comments to: mh@umn.edu
Created 25 November 1997
Revised 7 May 2000