Professor: Jamie F. Wheeler
Did Hamlet Love Ophelia?
Although some scholars argue that Hamlet has a concise story, it is filled with many uncertainties relating to Hamlet. One of which is Hamlet love for Ophelia, despite some argue otherwise, the evidence provides that the Prince truly did love Ophelia.
The word “love” is a powerful one, both in real life, and in Shakespeare's play Hamlet. It is often a confusing concept, made even harder to grasp when one of the lovers repeatedly changes his/her mind (Hanson, 16). In Hamlet's case, his feelings towards Ophelia veer from love, to never loved, to always love. This cycle of emotions is due to Hamlet feigning madness. Hamlet is trying to throw off people with his madness so he can be with Ophelia. In this time period in which Hamlet claimed to Ophelia that he never loved her, was that in which his rage at his uncle was constantly increasing. Although Hamlet denies his love for Ophelia, it is possible to realize that he never stopped loving her.
Hamlet’s love for Ophelia is first introduced to the reader by Ophelia herself, “He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me.”(1.3.45). Hamlet has corresponded with Ophelia and demonstrated the love he feels for her. Even at this point in the play, Hamlet, without even having been seen around Ophelia, seems to be a bit distant. This distance could be due to Hamlet’s forces between him and Ophelia is in part due to the fact that her brother and father are so overly protective of her. Ophelia claims that Hamlet has confirmed his love for her “with almost all the holy vows of heaven” (1.3.123). Ophelia’s words that he does love her in this first act are extremely important when looking at the play as a whole because they allow the reader to understand Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia (Romanska, 145). Ophelia’s statement shows that Hamlet has talked to her about love and they both feel they love each other.
The plot thickens and Hamlet’s mind begins to ponder the possibilities of a confession by the king. His love for Ophelia is also strongly noticed by all. The nobles of Elsinor also take notice that the love he shows and they start to realize the possibility that Hamlet love for Ophelia would benefit them all. When Polonius reads from one of Hamlet s love letters to Ophelia, in which he says to her “But that I love thee best, O most best, believe it” (2.2.91). The numbers that would encapsulate by the physics and psychology of Hamlet’ love for Ophelia (McCormick, 74). Queen Gertrude wishes to use Ophelia’s love to bring her only son out of madness. Claudius wishes to do the same. Sandoval 3
His reason, however, is to end the threat of his own life. Once the king and queen realize this remedy they quickly act to use it by persuading Ophelia to talk to Hamlet. In this Scene, true madness comes into play. Once Ophelia meets Hamlet and speaks with him Hamlet realizes that his mother and stepfather are aware of this love and might use this to end his threat. Hamlet must end their thoughts of using Ophelia to rid him of his condition. To do this he must destroy all the current feelings Ophelia has for him and he does so very well, perhaps too well. As the story grows deeper, Hamlet shows us that he really did love Ophelia when Hamlet tells Ophelia that “I did love you once” (3.1.131). Hamlet only confesses that he did indeed loved Ophelia, but only when it goes on to says that Hamlet never loved her (Habib, 23). On the contrary Hamlet knows the whereabouts with Ophelia is being watched. After Ophelia and Hamlet get finished talking Hamlet ask to Ophelia “Where’s your father?”(3.1.141). Ophelia answers and tells Hamlet that Polonius is at home, suddenly Hamlet answers “Let the doors be shut upon him that he may play the fool nowhere but in‘s own house” (3.1.143-44). Hamlet implies that he knows Polonius has I eye on them...