In the play Hamlet, there are only two main female characters that both play an extremely compelling and difficult manifestation of love. Ophelia and Gertrude never have a scene together, or alone. Ophelia does not have another female confidant to talk to and Gertrude also doesn’t have anyone to talk to about her secret feelings. The only relationships between these women are with men, and most of the men surrounding them don’t really care about their feelings, or value their worth.
Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet is unhealthy and disarranged. She goes through so much emotional pain trying to figure out what Hamlet exactly wants. One minute he wants her, the next he doesn’t. Coming from a woman’s point of view and experience, it is tiring trying to understand exactly what the other person wants. It is a constant battle with doing what your heart says is best, and the doing what your mind says is best. Without this constant love battle between both Hamlet and Ophelia, and her father and brother constantly telling her she is never good enough for anyone or that anyone she ever loves does not love her back, is emotionally draining on a certain person. Having all of these factors play into Ophelia’s emotions eventually causes her to go mad, which then makes Hamlet realize how much of a vital part she was in his life. Without her always fighting for him and trying to understand why he was the way he was, Hamlet felt something missing when Ophelia was gone, and when he finally felt what that was like he understood how much of a role she played in his life. In the moment that Hamlet finally realizes whose funeral everyone was at, he could finally come to terms how much Ophelia actually meant to her, after it was too late. Knowing that he messed up with her, fueled his fire to fight for what he thought was justice, and it also had an impact as to what was he even fighting for anymore, since everything was being stripped from him all at once.
Gertrude has willfully abused all of the love she has given and gotten from Hamlet. In fact, Gertrude is a woman in a man’s world and has taken all the things we might think of as “a strong, modern woman” and really made a mess of her life. Gertrude has some main parts throughout the story, which mainly consist of lust, selfishness and greed. When she drank the poisoned cup and realized that she is about to die, this is when she comes around and fully recognizes what she’s done with her life. All throughout the story, Gertrude is attached to Claudius’ hip. We might see Claudius without Gertrude, but we rarely see Gertrude without Claudius. At the end of the story when she finally sees Claudius for the true bastard he really is, that is when she realizes her true love for Hamlet. She always was on his side, but was more blinded by what the King wanted rather than what she wanted. This impacted Hamlet in more ways that any because having his mother’s rejection towards him sometimes played an impact on how he was with Ophelia, in the sense that he didn’t want to get to close to her in fear of feeling the rejection he constantly faced with his mother. Even though Gertrude always showed love to Hamlet and loved him even when he killed Polonius, there were always those times where she wasn’t always there for him because of Claudius.
In the end, both women played a huge role in Hamlets life. I feel like Ophelia showed him true love that nobody ever showed him, and his mom showed him more rejection. All of these factors add up to some of the reasons why he went “mad”. Without his mother always turning the other cheek and following the Kings orders to keep him from getting mad, Hamlet wouldn’t have the trust issues he faced with Ophelia. Another thing he faced with Ophelia was her constant need for attention. She always had self-doubt about Hamlet and whether or not he still had feelings for her, which evidently led to Hamlet getting tired of her constant doubt. But then when both of the main female figures in Hamlet’s life were all of the sudden gone, there was this feeling the audience got that Hamlet didn’t really feel like anything was worth fighting for, except to finally avenge not only his father’s death, but now also his mothers.