Year: 1986 Source: Shakespeare Quarterly, v.37, no.3, (Autumn 1986), p.309-317 SIEC No: 20011448

This article examines Frye’s (1984) treatment of a single incident in “Hamlet” – Ophelia’s burial. MacDonald’s narrow purpose is to show that contemporary attitudes to suicide were more ambivalent & mortuary customs more uncertain than Frye admits. The wider aim is to demonstrate that cultural history can deepen our awareness of Shakespeare’s artistry. Instead of dispelling the ambiguities that surround Ophelia’s “maimed rites,” as Frye insists, historical study instead calls attention to the legal, religious, & moral problems posed by suicide & the uses Shakespeare made of them. (21 notes)