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Shakespeare - Accurate Essays


Hamlet and Ophelia


Love is complicated and people do not always end up with whom they love for their ‘happily ever after’. “Hamlet” is a play that is one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces of all centuries. The main character in the play, Hamlet, was a person who had outstanding qualities since apart from him being a prince, he was also focused, decisive and eloquent. He was also a philosopher, and was a just person who always stood up for the truth. His life however had one person, Ophelia, a young woman with whom Hamlet was involved. The question of his love for her is under scrutiny and this essay sets out to answer that question. It can be asserted that he loved Ophelia with all his heart and soul and he never stopped throughout the story. The love between the two was strong but was characterized with many misfortunes and as some people would say, it was not meant to be.

Did hamlet love Ophelia?

The first instance where Hamlet’s love for Ophelia is evidenced is that when Ophelia tells her father that Hamlet has made advances at her, “He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me.” (I.iii.ll.100-101). Here, Ophelia is informing her father of Hamlet and his love for her. Later on in the play, in his ‘mad’ state, Hamlet goes to Ophelia in his lowest moments and tries to show her his love for her. Although he tries to force himself on her, he hopes his message will go through to her. She rejects him out of fright,

“He took me by the wrist and held me hard. Then goes he to the length of all his arm, And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow, He falls to such perusal of my face as he would draw it. Long stayed he so” (II.i.ll.87-91).

This is evidenced when Ophelia informs her father of this incident. Hamlet’s love for Ophelia is further solidified when her father, Polonius, confiscates Hamlet’s love letter to Ophelia and takes it to the king and queen. The letter reads,

“‘Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love. O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers. I have not art to reckon my groans, but that I love thee best, oh, most best, believe it. Adieu. Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to him, Hamlet.’” (II.ii.ll.116-124),

This is the most convincing proof of Hamlet’s love for Ophelia.

Does he stop loving her?

Hamlet does not stop loving Ophelia. However, he keeps his distance from her due to the overprotective nature of her father and brother. In a confrontation, Polonius questions Ophelia,

“Marry, well bethought. ’ Tis told me he hath very oft of late given private time to you, and you yourself have of your audience been most free and bounteous. If it be so as so ’tis put on me— and that in way of caution—I must tell you, you do not understand yourself so clearly as it behooves my daughter and your honor. What is between you? Give me up the truth”(I.iii.ll.91-99).

This is in pursuit of the truth about the time she spends with Hamlet. She is told to refrain from seeing him since she tells her father of the love they share. This shows Hamlet’s love for her. However, Polonius discredits Hamlet’s love for his daughter by telling her, “Affection! Pooh, you speak like a green girl, unsifted in such perilous circumstance. Do you believe his “tenders,” as you call them?” (I.iii.ll.101-103). Ophelia’s father tries to use his authority to come between Hamlet and Ophelia. Ophelia, out of affection tries to defend Hamlet by telling her father, “My lord, he hath importuned me with love in honorable fashion.” (I.iii.ll.110-111).

Does he ever love her?

Hamlet distances himself from Ophelia out of his anger and vengeance. However, in his feigned madness, he intends to seek revenge without causing alarm but in the process, he hurts her feelings and her hopes of ever being with him. He appears before her in one of his disoriented states. Ophelia, quite perturbed, says

“My lord, as I was sewing in my closet, Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced; No hat upon his head; his stockings fouled, Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle; Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle; Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other; And with a look so piteous in purport As if he had been loosèd out of hell. To speak of horrors—he comes before me.” (II.i.77-84), as she relives the account to her father.

The fact that Hamlet chooses to appear to Ophelia in such a state proves that he loves her and is subconsciously driven towards her and wants to see her. This however leads Ophelia to ban Hamlet from seeing her again and she does not accept anything from him after that. Hamlet however takes this the wrong way and takes out his frustrations on Ophelia, “He took me by the wrist and held me hard. Then goes he to the length of all his arm, And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow, He falls to such perusal of my face As he would draw it. Long stayed he so.” (II.i.ll.87-91). He manhandles her and frightens her. Hamlet develops a hatred for women after his mother gets married to his uncle immediately after his father’s death. He says “Let me not think on‘t; frailty thy name is woman!” (1.2.146).


Hamlet truly loves Ophelia but the heat of the moment he gets in makes everything difficult for them to be together. His father’s death, his mother’s marriage to his uncle, Ophelia’s lie about her father, are all situations that show how Hamlet’s anger and hatred for women overwhelm his love for Ophelia. Hamlet gives an analogy of his love for Ophelia that proves just how much he loved her and loved her truly, “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.” (V.i.ll.272-274), This is the most substantial proof that hamlet really loved Ophelia.



















Works Cited

Shakespeare, William, and Samuel Timmins. Hamlet. Thunder Bay, ON: Sampson Low, 2007. Print.

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