Using interruptions as a specific formal structure, this article explores the varying characterisation of Ophelia/Ofelia in Hamlet. The textual differences apparent in the ‘Nunnery’ scene present an Ophelia in Q2 that is interrupted by Hamlet and possesses little power, whereas her Q1 counterpart actively engages the prince and repeatedly interrupts him. These differences highlight not only a change in characterisation but also a reconceptualisation of the status of the two texts: Q2 presents a directed and writerly dramatic text, while Q1 offers an open and performative theatrical one. By considering the repeated interruptions not as corruptions in the text but as open and artful choices, Q1's Ofelia becomes a more equal and interesting character who asserts agency and defies Hamlet's misogynistic invective.
Michael M. Wagoner is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Florida State University. He is working on a monograph about the form of the interruption in early modern drama that focuses on the plays of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and John Fletcher. He also holds an MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University. His work has appeared in Shakespeare Bulletin, New Theatre Quarterly and The Journal of Contemporary Drama in English.