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Ophelia, the Singing Corpse: Pleasure and the Gaze in Where the Wild Roses Grow

Ophelia, the Singing Corpse: Pleasure and the Gaze in Where the Wild Roses GrowOphelia - By Millais

Zeleny, Rachael Baitch (University of Delaware, USA)

Neo-Victorian Studies 3:2 (2010)

Abstract

This essay deconstructs a very strange reinterpretation of John Millais Ophelia (1852) as found in Rocky Schenck’s music video, Where the Wild Roses Grow (1997). Drawing from Jan Marsh’s ‘Pale Ladies of Death’, OpheliaElisabeth Bronfen’s Over Her Dead Body and Ann Kaplan’s revisions of Laura Mulvey’s ‘gaze’ theory, this work explores the compulsion to render or to gaze at a beautiful dead woman. Marsh, Bronfen, and Kaplan provide helpful avenues through which to begin approaching the complex operations of a contemporary Neo-Victorian representation of an eroticised Pre-Raphaelite woman, as in Where the Wild Roses Grow. This work demonstrates that the music video is symptomatic of the contemporary Western audience’s desire not only to see, but also to interact with, the visual aesthetics and icons (especially the female icons) of the Victorian era.

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