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English Literature Essay: Hamlet and Ophelia Relationship

6 pages
1412 words
George Washington University
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Hamlet by William Shakespeare is a play that surrounds the lives of a royal family in Denmark. At the beginning of the game, the king of Denmark has been murdered, and his son Prince Hamlet is called from school in Germany to attend the burial of his father. The death of the king raises a lot of questions in the princes mind because he finds his mother Gertrude already married to his uncle, Claudius. Claudius who is the brother of the late king plays innocent, but the prince is suspicious of the marriage and considers it as the peak of immorality. To make the situation worse, Claudius has already crowned himself as the king contrary to the norm where Hamlet is supposed to be the heir and take over the throne after his father. On the other hand, the king is unable to rest in his grave, and it is believed that he comes at night in the form to sleep in the castle. It is alleged that he complains that he cannot rest in the grave because he was murder. Claudius claims that the ghost poured poison in the ear of the late king as he was the course of the night says in the castle the spirit urges Hamlet to kill Claudius and spare the queen so that the heavens can decide what will happen to her. Hamlet is scared and confused at the same time because he is not sure if the ghost is the spirit of his late father or an agent of the devil sent to destroy him. To ascertain this Hamlet looks for a team to help him investigate on the issue through a play called the "Murder of Gonzago" the game makes the king be very conscious and unstable in his mind an act that makes Hamlet confirm that he is the one who killed his father. His plot to kill the king begins but before he causes the death of other six people.

Hamlet is one bold character who decides to avenge the death of his father although he ends up causing the deaths of six other people. He is in love with Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius. When Ophelia goes mud, it is questioned whether she becomes mud because of the love she has for Hamlet. She is trapped in a state of a dilemma because of the restriction set to her by her brother and father and at the same time the intense love she has for Hamlet. The brother warns her that hamlets love is not genuine and he is playing around with her emotions. The argument that Laertes has is that Ophelia does not deserve Hamlet because of their difference in class. He insists that hamlet is after satisfying the pleasures of his state and that he cannot fall in love and that is Ophelia loves Hamlet he will eventually break her heart. Laertes has a conviction that his sister is pure and innocent and she has no desire to offer except her sex. If Ophelia gives her virginity to Hamlet, then she will be ashamed forever.

The relationship of the two lovebirds is surrounded by several voices that make the naive and pure Ophelia get confused and does not know whose voice to follow. She is surrounded by so much pressure from her father and her brother coupled with her inner desire of loving Hamlet and Hamlets own demands. Polonius, for instance, asks her daughter if Hamlet had made advances on her and she confesses that he said he loved her. It is a statement that enraged his father who I turn calls her a green girl(Act 6) implying that she knows nothing about love because she is too naive to read a sense of time in the tricks of Hamlet. The confused and indeed naive Ophelia confirms her state of ignorance by saying to her father I do not know my lord what I should think. It is corrupting her states of mind because she is in love with the prince and because of the pressure from her father and brother she cannot admit because of fear and respect.

Polonius continues to tell her daughter that she should not lose her virginity because she will be a disgrace to the family and more to her father. He offers no chance to her daughter to be herself because he believes that she has no life for herself but owned by men. Shakespeare nuances a clear picture of women in this play through the charter Ophelia who is owned by her father and brother who believes that she is a virgin and the glory of virginity is women to them. They put restrictions on the relationship of his daughter and Hamlet because they consider her their chattel and they want to preserve her so that she can be sold for a dowry to a husband of their choice.

On the other hand, Hamlet has put so much pressure on Ophelia because he knows he listens to the advice and counsel of her family. Hamlet knows that Polonius and his son are against his affair with Ophelia a reason that makes him bitter and put so much pressure on his lover. He accuses her of not believing in him and compares Ophelia to a whore. Hamlet puts her to task when they meet at the corridor by asking her where the gather is yet he knows he is just around monitoring her. It is evident that he loves because he said "I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers, if you added all their love together, couldn't match mine."(Act 5) The pressure makes Ophelia lie that he is at home. The relationship between the two is controversial because it is dictated by Hamlet on the one hand and Laertes and Polonius on the other. Ophelia is put in the center of a conflict with a lot of demands on which side to follow. It worsened by the fact that she has her own heart and mind to consult too. Hamlet pins her down by forcing her to tell where Polonius is a situation that leaves her with no choice but to lie when she feebly answers "At home my lord." The voice is a sign of fear and confusion that earns her disapproval.

Ophelia has no life to live but to be a slave to the demands of the men in her life. She is in love with the prince, and they have had a sexual relationship a fact that she denies to please her father and brother. She hides her feeling of affection to Hamlet so that she can want her father. Her relationship is strained and ruined by her family who makes Ophelia to be disapproved by Hamlet. She portrays the character of women in the society of the times where they were owned by men and had no chance of expressing their desires. Ophelia's mother is dead, and she does not have any female figure to guide her into womanhood and advise her on her relationship with Hamlet. The link is dominated by jealousy and selfish interest of men. On the one hand is the importance of Hamlet having her as a sex lover and on the other side Polonius having her as property to be exchanged for dowry. Polonius has no life, and she has to die because she cannot choose to love Hamlet or follow the restrictions of her father and brother.

It is important to note that the relationship of Hamlet and Ophelia is a love story where obstacles hinder them from exploring their full declaration of love. Ophelia cannot stop loving Hamlet, and she keeps lying to her parents about their state of affair. Ophelia says that she does not know if Hamlet loves her but it is evident that they have had sexual relationship contrary to the belief of her father that she is a virgin. Hamlet disapproves her because of how she behaves due to the fears of offending her father. The demands are too much that she cannot handle them a reason for her committing suicide. It can be noted that indeed she was naive in matters of love because she cannot speak for her self-concerning what she feels. The relationship is a strong bond between a free man and a woman under servitude and slavery in the hands of men.


Work Cited

Hapgood, Robert. "Hamlet: Shakespeare in Production." (1999): 289.


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