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William Shakespeare has written many masterpiece plays and has told a vital story in almost all of them. In the play Hamlet Shakespeare uses melancholy, grief, and madness to pervade the works of a great play. Throughout the play Shakespeare uses such emotional malady within Hamlet, that the audience not only sympathizes with the tragic prince Hamlet, but to provide the very complexities necessary in understanding the tragedy of his lady Ophelia as well. It is the poor Ophelia who suffers at her lover's discretion.
Hamlet provides his own self-torture and does fall victim to melancholia and grief, however his madness is feigned. Ophelia and Hamlet each share a common connection: the loss of a parental figure. Hamlet loses his father as a result of a horrible murder, as does Ophelia. Her situation is more severe because it is her lover who murders her father and all of her hopes for her future as well. When looking at her character, one would think she was in grief but quickly turns to madness. Ophelia is made to be this sweet innocent girl but then turns crazy after her father dies and Hamlet leaves for England.
People argue that Hamlet has the first reason to be hurt by Ophelia because she follows her father's admonitions regarding Hamlet and his true intentions for their love. Polonius tells Ophelia that Hamlet will not do anything but be fickle with the girls since he is suppose to have an arranged marriage. After telling Ophelia this, Polonius and Claudius try to have Ophelia become bait to find out why Hamlet us acting crazy. Hamlet begins with his overwhelming sarcasm toward Ophelia, "I humbly thank you, well, well, well," he says to her regarding her initial pleasantries (3.1.91). Before this scene, he has heard the King and Polonius establishing a plan to deduce his unusual and grief-stricken behavior. Hamlet is well aware that this plan merely uses Ophelia as a tool, and as such, she does not have much option of refusing without angering not only her busybody father but the conniving King Claudius as well. Hamlet readily refuses that he cared for her. He tells her and all of his uninvited listeners, "No, not I, I never gave you aught" (3.1.94-95).
Hamlet has a right to direct his anger to Ophelia because it was her that “repelled” against him. Her father forced her, and if she did try to disobey her father she could be disowned.
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Hamlet mourns for his father, but it is the bitterness and will that he harbors towards his mother for her hasty marriage to his uncle. His thoughts of Ophelia are secondary at best. When it happens that Hamlet accidentally slays Polonius, he does not appear to be thinking of the potential effect of his actions on Ophelia. Hamlet has sealed her fate. No matter what Hamlet puts towards Ophelia she will always love him. Throughout the entire murder scene in Act 3, Scene4, Hamlet does not remark about the damage he has done to Ophelia. His emotional upswing is devoted entirely to his mother, and while his emotions are not an imitation, he does admit that he "essentially [is] not in madness, But mad in craft" (lines 187-188). Ophelia is then left to mourn her father, but it is not his death alone that spurns her insanity. Her love is such that she is forced to fear and hate her father's murderer that is also her lover and the one person to whom all of her future hopes were pinned -Prince Hamlet. Hamlet doesn’t ever tell how sorry he was for doing this to Ophelia but tells Guilderstien and Rosencranz that he will not let them know where the body is. Her entire orientation to the future has suddenly been destroyed, and with her brother gone, Ophelia has no one to turn to for comfort. Hamlet then delves further into his manic feigned madness and Ophelia is cheated into the belief that he really is mad. The options for her sanity are none; melancholy and grief are madness for Ophelia.
Hamlet and Ophelia are confronted with the irretrievable loss of a love, however it is Ophelia's dilemma that is the more horrible and tragic of the two. We are able to discern that Polonius (Ophelia’s sole parent) has a harsh attitude toward his daughter at the beginning of the play may not be cruel for cruelty's sake; Polonius may actually be showing signs that he is overly protective of Ophelia and instructs her to deny Hamlet's "tenders" because they represent a threat toward his position as her father. We might also infer that as Ophelia's only parent for such a great duration in her young life that Polonius may actually favored her, letting her act as the replacement for her mother in her father's life. It is interesting that the same situation can correspondingly be applied to the relationship that Hamlet shares with his mother. Hamlet is fatherless. While this is a more recent position for him, it is interesting, that rather than have his loss bring him and his mother closer, it only serves to bind him in his agony. He battles within himself of doing harm to his mother. Hamlet may very well see his father through his mother's eyes.
The melancholy, grief, and madness that Hamlet suffers from may well have been the propelling force for all of his unfortunate action in Shakespeare's play. It is worth allowing that the first of the two are real; his melancholy and grief are not counterfeit. Ophelia is the more tragic of the two because her madness is not feigned. Furthermore, it is caused by the very love of her life is even more disastrous for her poor young life. They are each malcontents with no real happiness made available to them given their unfortunate circumstances.