Act IV. Scene 7, the body count is rising in what many consider Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. Hamlet’s turn is coming, but not before Ophelia, unable to cope any longer… succumbs. Her brother, Laertes listens as Gertrude describes the scene:
There is a willow grows askant the brook
That shows his (hoar) leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call
Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up, …
But long it could not be
Til her garments, heavy with the drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
Beauty in tragedy is hard to fathom, yet Shakespeare does not dismiss it. Evocative, feminine Ophelia even in death is startling beautiful, even if, on the inside, darkness has enveloped her as she slips beneath her watery grave. What is this feminine mystique that appeals so much to me all the while knowing the loss of this life epitomizes the tragic doom seemingly inevitable by the play’s end? Might it be her attention to her intimate apparel, albeit of nature’s design? I think so, even if I am eminently aware that more lies beneath.
I have yet to see intimate apparel of last design, the final statement as beauty awaits the grave. Part of me never wishes to experience what must be such painful beauty. But I have seen intimate apparel that evokes the opposite, the same simple, natural beauty, full of life’s promise that is evident in the exquisite lingerie that is the Simone Perele brand.
It could be the evocative chantilly lace that defines the romantic Celeste designs . . . .
Or perhaps it is unbelievable softness that imbues the Caressence collection so much like the the softness inherent in the image of Ophelia. . .
Perhaps it is morbid to see in the essence of beauty of death’s final veil the same beauty in life’s future promise. I have always been confused by the feminine mystique. I expect that will never change.