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Sarah Bernhardt’s Ophelia | Early Modern and Open Access

By June 22, 2014 No Comments

This is part of a weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.

Sarah Bernhardt's Ophelia | Early Modern and Open Access shakespeare news The Shakespeare Standard theshakespearestandard.com shakespeare plays list play shakespeare

Citation and Link

Alan R. Young, “Sarah Bernhardt’s Ophelia,” Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 8.1 (2013) 


This essay argues that both Sarah Bernhardt’s 1880 sculpture of the drowned Ophelia and her later, on-stage appearance in 1886 as the dead Ophelia contributed significantly to the nineteenth-century obsession with death and sexuality. The cult of Ophelia was central to this obsession, and in both her sculpture and stage appearance, Bernhardt added subversive aspects that hinted at the nature of the female subject and the afterlife of Ophelia that would continue to play a significant role in visual culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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