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Essay on Hamlet's Relationship With Ophelia

5 pages
1167 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
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One of the central themes in Shakespeare's Hamlet is the theme of genuine and pure love between couples. This theme is presented in the relations between Gertrud and Hamlet's father; Gertrud and Claudio; and the effect that these relationships have had on the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia. The character of Ophelia, like the rest of the characters in Shakespeare's famed work, help to define Hamlet. In the case of the young maiden, what is achieved in Hamlet is one of the cruelest aspects of his nature. The relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet could easily represent a pendulum moving from cruelty to tenderness, from love to contempt. This fact is due to the same erratic personality that Hamlet shows.

The behavior that the prince has with the maiden can be explained in several ways. One of them is that maybe Hamlet wanted to show how deeply she loved and that the cruelty he shows her through the work is perhaps due to a kind of desire to protect her from the future he wants for himself, death. In Act 111, Hamlet openly denies that he does not love Ophelia (Shakespeare 54). His allegation of lack of love is highly arguable for various reasons. It is necessary to divide Hamlet's statement into two parts to analyze its truthfulness. First of all, it should be noted that by saying that he once loved Ophelia, it means that love for Ophelia existed at some time and that if it no longer exists, there should be a valid reason. In the same expression, Hamlet offers his supposed reason for not loving Ophelia. According to Hamlet, beauty and honesty cannot coexist in a woman.

Both statements are not very credible because, at the end of his soliloquy, which was interrupted when he saw Ophelia enter, Hamlet says "Ofelia! Nymph, in your prayers, never forget my sins! "(Act III, Scene 1) (Shakespeare 58). This was expressed in privacy so it can be considered one of Hamlet's intimate thoughts and therefore one can assume that it is a genuine expression of his feelings. By showing a desire to receive Ophelia's compassion in her prayers, it can be inferred that her feelings for her are still real and important-that is, contrary to what she says; she still loves her and wishes that she reciprocate them, even if it is only in your prayers. The reason Hamlet gives for not loving Ophelia is also wasted by the last sentence of his soliloquy. If Hamlet wants Ophelia to pray for her sins to be forgiven, it must be because he considers her a virtuous woman close to God. It is impossible to consider her virtuous and close to God, while at the same time considering her a deceiver and therefore a sinner. Once it is concluded, based on these arguments, that Hamlet is lying when he alleges that he no longer loves Ophelia, the possible reasons that Hamlet may have to deny his love must be evaluated.

A possible explanation for why Hamlet denied loving Ophelia is that he did it to show his madness. To argue that this was the reason would lead us to think that Ophelia's feelings are irrelevant to Hamlet; since he could show his madness in many other ways without hurting Ophelia. Their relationship and possible marriage were of convenience but highly unlikely. Certainly, their relationship is referenced by the love letters and marriage wishes of Hamlet's mother. Laertes, the son of Polonius, discourages his sister from continuing with that relationship (Shakespeare 64):

LAWS: As for Hamlet and his frivolous interest, take it as a passing fad, a fiery game, a tender violet that emits a sweet but not permanent perfume that will hardly last a minute. Nothing else. Maybe he loves you now, and his intentions do not contain a stain or deception that sully his virtue but be apprehensive. If we consider his rank, he has no will of his own, but he has it by birth. Be careful, Ophelia, be careful, my dear sister, keep your affection under control, do not put it within range of the dangers of desire.

He is sending her love letters, he is courting her, and he asks her not to surrender to him because his reputation is his greatest value. But, now, why is Laertes so apprehensive? Are not you interested in the Polonius family being favored by a future wedding between Hamlet and Ophelia? Is your rejection of Hamlet because Laertes and Polonius already know that this prince is being "set apart" by King Claudius? Queen Gertrude herself expresses these wishes of marriage in the funeral scene of Ophelia.

One of the songs that Ophelia sings when she appears crazy before the queen also suggests that they have already had sexual relations (Shakespeare 69). This is not what a virtuous gentleman of middle age would desire for his beloved and future wife.

OFELIA; I beg you, let's not talk about this, but when they ask you what it means, say this: (Singing)

He woke up and put on his clothes.

Then he opened the door,

And there came the maid

That was never maiden anymore.

When he left by the same door. "

In ACT III ESC I, Gertrude insists on the hope she holds for both (Shakespeare 72):

QUEEN Gertrude: As for you, Ophelia, I hope that your beauty is the happy cause of your extravagance. Just as I hope that your virtues return you to your normal state again, for the good of both. And after the monologue of being or not being, Ofelia comes to give him back his gifts and love letters, Hamlet questions his honesty and confesses that "there was once when he loved her".

Later, Hamlet becomes ridiculous in front of Ofelia, using her as the first instrument on his way to his revenge. This is not what a lover does to the one he or she loves. Lovers do everything they can to protect their loved ones and please them in every way. Normally, love is said to be the force that moves men and the world and is capable of overlooking even the minor and serious faults of the beloved, forgiving even contempt and abuse. However, Hamlet uses his "beloved" as the first instrument of his revenge. This could be interpreted that Hamlet's love for Ophelia has become so little or entirely ended. He treats in a cold and contempt manner suggesting hatred rather than love.

All those things Hamlet would do to show his love, but he questioned Ofelia before and could not talk to her kindly, intimately, from lover to lover, to know what was going on in the palace or what was the position of Polonius. Of course, these inquiries would be rhetorical, and Hamlet could already imagine what kind of a limp the Polonius family had. But his thirst for revenge, his ambition to carry out his plan seemed to be more important than his "love" for Ophelia.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William, and George Richard Hibbard. Hamlet. Oxford University Press, 2008.

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