There has been much debate over whether or not Hamlet truly loved Ophelia. Some say that he was only using her to further his own agenda, while others believe that he genuinely cared for her. So, what is the truth? Did Hamlet love Ophelia?
There is no doubt that Hamlet had strong feelings for Ophelia. He was constantly thinking about her and even spoke highly of her to other characters in the play. However, it is possible that his feelings were not entirely genuine. Hamlet was a very complicated character and it is difficult to know what his true intentions were.
It is also worth noting that Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia was complicated by the fact that she was his uncle’s daughter. This made their relationship somewhat taboo and may have influenced Hamlet’s feelings towards her.
Despite the fact that some critics maintain that Hamlet has a straightforward plot, it is brimming with unanswered questions about Hamlet. One of which is Hamlet’s love for Ophelia, despite the fact that others claim differently, evidence suggests that the Prince really did care for her. The term “love” is an intense word in both real life and in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. It’s a tough concept to grasp when one of the pair keeps changing his or her mind (Hanson, 16).
Love is often a theme in Shakespeare’s plays, and Hamlet is no exception. Love is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person” (Merriam). In other words, love is a strong emotion felt between two people who are attracted to each other. This can be interpreted in many ways, which often leads to arguments and confusion.
Some argue that Hamlet did not truly love Ophelia, and that his affections for her were based on lust or self-gratification. However, there is evidence to suggest that Hamlet’s feelings for Ophelia were genuine, and that he did indeed love her. In the play, Hamlet says to Ophelia, “I did love you once” (3.1.115). This could be interpreted in a number of ways, but it is clear that Hamlet did have some level of feeling for Ophelia at one point.
Hamlet also speaks highly of Ophelia when he is speaking to his mother about her. He says, “she is the beauty of the world… the paragon of animals” (3.2.180-181). This shows that not only did Hamlet love Ophelia at one point, but he still had strong feelings for her even after she rejected him.
It is also important to consider the actions of Hamlet throughout the play. Although he may seem like he is mad, his actions are often strategic and well thought out. For example, when Hamlet is talking to his mother about whether or not she should remarry, he says “I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft” (3.4.188-190). This shows that even though Hamlet may act crazy, he is actually in control of his actions and knows what he is doing.
This is relevant to the discussion of Hamlet’s love for Ophelia because it shows that Hamlet is capable of Love. He may express it in different ways than other people, but his actions show that he does indeed care for her. For example, when Polonius tells Ophelia to stop seeing Hamlet, she says “I shall obey, my lord” (3.1.108).
However, Hamlet overhears this and is clearly upset by it. He says “go to, go to” and throws a book at Polonius (3.1.109-110). This shows that Hamlet cared for Ophelia enough to get angry on her behalf when he heard that her father was telling her to stay away from him.
Hamlet’s feelings for Ophelia vary from love to never loved and back again. This cycle of emotions is due to Hamlet pretending madness. Hamlet is attempting to put people off his scent so that he may be with Ophelia. When Hamlet claimed that he never loved Ophelia, his anger towards his uncle was continuously increasing during this period. Despite Hamlet denying his affection for Ophelia, it is clear that he has always adored her.
Love is a very powerful emotion, and even though Hamlet was pretending to be mad, his love for Ophelia never stopped.
When Polonius asks Ophelia what Hamlet has said to her, she responds with, “He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me” (3.1.108-109). This shows that Hamlet has been telling Ophelia that he loves her, which would be the first stage in Hamlet’s love cycle. The second stage would be when Hamlet starts to doubt his love for Ophelia. He tells her that he never loved her and that she should “get thee to a nunnery” (3.1.121).
This is most likely Hamlet’s way of pushing Ophelia away so she will be safe from his madness. The third stage is when Hamlet realizes that he never stopped loving Ophelia. He says to her, “I loved you not” (3.1.122). By saying this, Hamlet is admitting that he still loves her, even though he claimed he never did.
The love triangle between Hamlet, Ophelia, and Polonius is a big factor in why Hamlet’s love for Ophelia seems to be always changing. Polonius is constantly trying to use Ophelia as a tool to figure out what is wrong with Hamlet. This causes tension between Hamlet and Ophelia, which could be why Hamlet denies his love for her. Even though Hamlet is denying his love for Ophelia, it is possible to see that he still has deep feelings for her.
Love is a very complicated emotion, and in Hamlet’s case, his love for Ophelia is no different. He goes through stages of loving her, to not loving her, and then back to loving her again. This shows that even though Hamlet is trying to act like he doesn’t care about Ophelia, he really does.
Ophelia says, “He has, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me.” This first shows Hamlet’s love for Ophelia through her. (1.3.45) Hamlet has written to Ophelia and shown his devotion to her. Even though he hasn’t been seen with Ophelia yet, Hamlet appears a little aloof.
Ophelia goes on to say, “my lord, he hath importuned me with love in honorable fashion.”(1.3.46). Hamlet has not outright said he loves Ophelia, but he has alluded to it in a roundabout way. Polonius believes that Hamlet is truly in love with Ophelia and he gives his blessing for their marriage.
However, later on in the play, Hamlet’s actions and words towards Ophelia seem to paint a different picture of his feelings for her. He tells her “Get thee to a nunnery!”(3.1.121) and “Go thy ways to a nunnery… Where’s your father?”(3.1.131-132). Hamlet is telling Ophelia to go live in a convent and stay away from him, which does not seem like the words of someone who is in love with someone.
Furthermore, Hamlet says some very hurtful things to Ophelia when he is talking to her about women in general. He tells her “Frailty, thy name is woman!”(1.2.146) and “I fell in love with your virtuous qualities… But virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes.”(3.1.95-98). These words do not seem like they would be spoken by someone who loves someone as much as Hamlet supposedly loves Ophelia.
Because of these conflicting actions and words, it is difficult to say for certain whether or not Hamlet truly loved Ophelia. It seems that he may have been in love with her at one point, but his love for her may have faded due to the events that transpired throughout the play.