Hamlet’s initial romantic interest in Ophelia is presented and inferred from a scene in which Laertes, Ophelia’s protective brother, confronts Ophelia on her relationship with Hamlet. Laertes warns Ophelia of the “trifling of [Hamlet’s] favor,...a violet in the youth of primy nature,/Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,/The perfume and suppliance of a minute;/No more” (1.3.6-11). This indicates the temporary nature of Hamlet’s love, revealing that, at the moment, it is alive and thriving with their youth, but may quickly wilt like a flower. Correspondingly, Laertes reasons that “Perhaps he loves [her] now,” but the weight of Hamlet’s political position as prince may take precedence over his love, causing her...
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...Claudius eavesdrop behind an arras to conclude whether Hamlet’s love for Ophelia is the true, deep-rooted cause of his madness. However, this hypothesis is quickly proven incorrect once the conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia commences. Ophelia reminds Hamlet of his professions of interest to her, but Hamlet simply states that he “did love [her] once,” but that she “should not have believed” him; Hamlet then brazenly declares, “I loved you not” (3.1.121, 122, 124, 125). Though one may take this statement at face value, Hamlet’s actions could succeed in “asserting love through the process of denying it” (Habib). Hence, by unabashedly denying his love aloud, Hamlet simultaneously instates it within himself through his recognition of denial, though Ophelia and the audience may not initially acknowledge it within the context of this outpouring of stated feelings.
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