Hamlet – The love of Hamlet for Ophelia
Hamlet is without any reservations, one of Shakespeares most mystifying plays. Although the play has a concise story, it is filled with many uncertainties relating to different issues behind the plot. The reader is left with many uncertainties about the true feelings of prince Hamlet. One question in particular is, did Hamlet really love Ophelia? This dispute can be reinforced either way, however I believe Hamlet was truly in love with Ophelia. Support for my decision comes from Hamlets treatment towards Ophelia is shown throughout the play, but especially in Act 3, Scene 2, and at Ophelias grave in Scene 1 of Act 5.
This play is about the troubles encountered by young prince Hamlet as he tries to seek revenge for his fathers murder. Hamlet discovers the murder of his father, as well as the adultery and incest committed by his mother and uncle. This results with Hamlet retaining a very embittered and cynical outlook on life. “Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His cannon gainst self-slaughter how weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world.” (1.2.131-134). Throughout the play, Hamlet teaches the audience the depths of his depression through soliloquies. Hamlet not only regards the world with pessimism, but he also has suicidal feelings. Hamlet displays thoughts of self that questions the worth of living. The foremost cause for his exasperation and aggravation is the fact that his mother and his uncle, Claudius immediately got married right after his fathers death. His mothers actions seem to be what repulses Hamlet most as he yells, “frailty thy name is woman!” (1.2.146). Hamlet has developed a burning hate towards his mother and women in general. It is this fuming mind-set that is responsible for his terrible treatment towards dear, innocent Ophelia in Act 3.
Once Hamlet discovers the cause of his fathers death, he disguises himself by acting nutty to mask his true objectives of revenge. By doing so Hamlet is now able to do whatever he wants to, without being questioned of his behavior. He does this on one occasion during a visit with Ophelia. Ophelia later relays this meeting to her father, telling him that Hamlet was not properly dressed, “and with a look so piteous in purport as if he had been loosed out of hell to speak of horrors-he comes before me.” (2.1.82-84). This scene is directly after Hamlet learns of his fathers murder. It seems that Hamlet is looking to Ophelia for help, his feelings were crushed and he needed consolation. I extract the estimation that prince Hamlet adores Ophelia, and that she is one the few loved ones he has left to turn to. I am sure he loves his family, but his father is dead, his mother is unconcerned with his fathers death and his uncle is the murderer of his father.
The plot thickens and Hamlets mind begins to ponder the possibilities of a confession by the king. His love for Ophelia is also strongly noticed by all. The nobles of Elsinor also notice the love he shows and they begin to realize the possibility that Hamlet love for Ophelia would benefit them all. When Polonius reads from one of Hamlets love letters to Ophelia, in which he says to her “But that I love thee best, O most best, believe it.” (2.2.121-122). Queen Gertrude wishes to use Ophelia’s love to bring her only son out of madness. Claudius wishes to do the same. His reason, however, is to end the threat of his own life. Once the king and queen realize this remedy they quickly act to use it by persuading Ophelia to talk to Hamlet. In this Scene true madness comes into play. Once Ophelia meets Hamlet and speaks with him Hamlet realizes that his mother and stepfather are aware of this love and might use this to end his threat. Hamlet must end their thoughts of using Ophelia to rid him of his condition. To do this he must destroy all the current feelings Ophelia has for him and he does so very well, perhaps too well. Now that Ophelia feelings for him have lessened, he