Hamlet is without any reservations, one of Shakespeare's 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 Hamlet's treatment towards Ophelia as shown throughout the play, but especially in Act 3, Scene 2, and at Ophelia?s 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 father?s 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 father?s death. His mother's 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 father?s 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 be...
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...itter reaction to her denial prove his feelings of love. Although Shakespeare may not have made it excessively clear, the popular belief supports Hamlet's love for Ophelia.
So indeed, Hamlet did love Ophelia, and evidence is also in the play that she did love the prince. When Laertes tells Ophelia to beware of Hamlet's love, she does not deny her love for Hamlet but responds that yes she will be careful. As for the song, no part of any of Shakespeare's plays is ever thrown in simply because it was popular at the time. When Ophelia sings that sing in her mentally disturbed state she is revealing the nature of her relationship to Hamlet and his promises of love. In the end, Ophelia had no plan, plot or motive that drove her crazy, the loss of her lover and her father was too much for her to bear.
I think Shakespeare made it a point to be for inconsistent to add to the many mysteries of Hamlet's character as well as allow readers to relate to Hamlet?s complex mind. That is what makes a play so interesting to a reader?s mind?when one can place themselves in the shoes of the main character.
Shakespeare. Hamlet. New York: First Signet Classic Printing, 1998.
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