by John William Waterhouse
Ophelia was a favorite subject for the Pre-Raphaelites. She embodies the tragic innocent female. Her name is derived from the Latin word apheleia, meaning 'innocent'. The character of Ophelia comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet. After having fallen in love with Hamlet and being spurned by him, she falls into a state of madness. After the death of her father, she can take no more and tragically drowns herself.
There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them.
There on the pendant boughs her crownet weeds
Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like a while they bore her up;
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
by John William Waterhouse