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THE SILENCE OF OPHELIA

 

 

 

Ted Hughes placed the silence of Cordelia at the heart of Shakespeare’s ethical system, as representing the wordless heart to which all things refer, basis of the truly religious (< Latin religare, ‘to bind back’) world-view, and destroyer of the Puritan error. I show in UDGCB that is true, but only up to a point: for the silences of Cordelia, Hippolyta, Hero, and their kin, in truth signify that the unseen world is not speaking to the Puritan sufferer through the written word: that, in his anathematisation of the Gnostic written tradition, which engages the unseen world, or Faustian dimension, to control and transcend it, he leaves himself vulnerable to it in catabolic mode, as Shakespeare certainly came to know on that day in 1587 when the coup befell him: a tragic time for him, but an auspicious one for Western culture. Lear and Ophelia singing ‘like birds in a cage’ represent the first stages of rebirth into Gnostic nobility (ascendancy of Edgar), the final reference being to the life of Shakespeare, who was similarly reborn from his Puritan hell with Sir Francis Bacon as accoucheur. It is therefore not the silence of Cordelia, but rather her volubility, which is central to the Shakespearean (Baconian) philosophy.

 

I show in UDGCB that Ophelia floating supine and singing on the brook represents the “Spirit that moved on the face of the waters”, the Holy Spirit Herself (female, before her mutilation by the Pauline Church), whose female gnosis is Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, Who was worshipped as Baphomet by the Knights Templar. Ophelia is also the Goddess of Love as cast in negative mantle by the Puritan world-view, which is identified by Bacon as the prime aetiological agent in the development of paranoid schizophrenia, of which Hamlet is an allegory. (UDGCB penetrates for the first time fully the mystery of Hamlet).

 

However, I paid scant attention to her songs, and consequent silence. Her volubility is cognate, of course, with that of Cordelia, Hippolyta of the final Act of MND, and Hero, eventually, in MAN; her silence, cognate likewise with the earlier silences of those three and their kin throughout FF, as the subject sinks into the final stages of psychosis: for she is, like them, a Queen of Hell-Grail Queen, Whose realm of the world – underworld or unconscious - that lies unseen below the surface of things, is cognate with the ‘waters’ on which the Holy Spirit moves.

 

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