Beauty, yes, beauty is the maddener. It is Ophelia’s beauties that might make a man run mad. Not her spirit, not her intelligence or herSELF, really. It is her beauty.
“For which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?”
With women, it is always their beauty. Men in poetry, songs and stories, they are struck dumb by beauty, inspired by beauty, could run mad by beauty. And it becomes a woman’s beauty that incites a man to rape her. It’s a woman’s beauty that turns a man into a beast. He will blame her beauty, claim no responsibility for it – in the face of such extraordinary beauty, what was he supposed to do? Beauty is often framed as dangerous for men but it seems to me even more dangerous for women. Nothing will get you into trouble faster than the possession of an unusual amount of beauty.
I can’t help thinking that Ophelia must be particularly beautiful because she has the blandness of the exceptionally beautiful. Not that all exceptionally beautiful people are bland – I’ve met some really gorgeous brilliant firecrackers. But some people get away with great blandness due to their beauty.