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Natalie Merchant as novice Carmelite from OpheliaNatalie Merchant as suffragette from OpheliaNatalie Merchant as Demi-Goddess from OpheliaNatalie Merchant as Female Cannonball from OpheliaNatalie Merchant as Ophelia gone mad

The short film for Natalie Merchant’s 1998 song cycle album OpHeLiA provides a visual portrayal of Merchant’s socially aware, feminist sound through her theatrical interpretation of the characters mentioned in the title song. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia is a young woman surrounded by powerful men who all abuse and exploit her — expecting her to simultaneously act in the conflicting roles of noblewoman, daughter, sister, and lover — until she finally descends into madness and dies. In Merchant’s version, Ophelia appears in seven diverse roles: The Novice Carmelite, Suffragette, National Sweetheart, Demi-Goddess, Mafia Courtesan, and Female Cannonball, culminating in “Herselves,” Merchant’s version of Ophelia driven mad by the incompatible roles and expectations of a society in which women have little to no voice.  






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