The play, “Hamlet”, written by William Shakespeare, has got to be one of his best plays. Despite the play having a not to complex storyline, there are a few uncertainties within the plot when it comes to different topics. This being said, we are left to wonder the true feelings Prince Hamlet has for Ophelia. The main question us as the readers have is, did Prince Hamlet truly love Ophelia. The major controversy over this idea of him loving Ophelia can be back up either sides argument. I personally believe that Prince Hamlet did in fact love Ophelia, I can prove this to be true through his treatment towards her throughout the play.
“Hamlet”, by William Shakespeare, revolves around the problems Hamlet faces as he tries to get answers as well as revenge for the murder of his father. Hamlet throughout the play is disappointed. He is disappointed by the murder of his father as well as the incest conducted by his mother and uncle. Due to the horrific events in his life portrayed within the play, he has a negative outlook on life. Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter — how weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world.” (page 42)
We can feel the strong emotions that Hamlet has jumping right off the pages as we read, it is obvious that due to his life events, he is severely depressed. Just like anyone else today, the idea of your mother and uncle getting married weighs on you, especially right after the death of your father. It is not hard to tell that Hamlet has developed a deeply rooted hatred towards his mother and we cannot blame him. This being said, because his mind is not in the right place, he ultimately mistreats Ophelia, as seen in Act 3.
Despite Hamlet being severely depressed, he is not stupid. He is slowly plotting the revenge for the murder of his father. Hamlet acts out of typical behavior around Ophelia and she confides with her father saying that Hamlet was not properly dressed, “and with a look so piteous in purport as if he had been loosed out of hell to speak of horrors-he comes before me.” (page 126) To me, this seems like a cry for help from Hamlet as this account was right after he discovered t he death of his father. This being said, it can be decided that he truly cares about Ophelia because he wants to confide in her about the death of his father. Due to the fact that his father is dead and he is very upset with his mother, he probably feels like he has no one else that he can trust around him.
As the play goes on, we see that he is hoping for a confession from the king and we also see hi love for Ophelia more prominent. Polonius takes it upon himself to read one of the love letters Hamlet has written for Ophelia, Hamlet said “but that I love thee best, O most best, believe it.” (page 139) Hamlets mother hope that Ophelia’s love can being her son out of his depression where as her husband just wants to make sure he is safe from Hamlet. However, being that Hamlet is not stupid, he see right through this plan and even tries to get her feeling for him eliminated. Hamlet knows that his uncle, this king, is the one that murdered his dad so he is currently trying to obtain a confession from him.
Continuing through the play we see Hamlets love and admiration for Ophelia shine brighter. In act 3, Hamlet gives his famous to be or not to be speech while he is contemplating taking his own life. Despite these suicidal feelings, when Prince Hamlet sees Ophelia, his mood totally changes, he even pays her a compliment. “That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.” (page 218) Hamlet further compliments her by saying “Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd that the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness”. (page 218)
On the contrary, when Ophelia returns the compliments, his mood changes in a negative way, It is almost like he does not appreciate nor want her to like him back. I believe this may be because everyone in his life that he loves has either passed away or betrayed him in some way shape or form.
In addition to, it can be analyzed that her words are not honest, and she is just saying nice things to him to please the king and queen, his uncle and mother, because they want him to get out of his deep depression. Ophelia eventually lies even more to Prince Hamlet ultimately reminding him of his mother and her deceptive ways.
In act 5, we truly see Prince Hamlet’s love for Ophelia. This is the act that is Ophelia’s funeral. He proves his true divine love for Ophelia by saying, “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.” (page 404)
It is hard for Prince Hamlet to admit and declare his love for Ophelia because he has little to no faith in woman due to the one woman who he thought would never betray him, his own mother. He looked at all the woman as evil yet, for some reason, he saw Ophelia as something much more and even, for the most part, the exception to his thoughts. I feel as though Hamlet truly loved Ophelia, despite William Shakespeare not making it very clear, however lines within the text do indicate there was love for her from him.
Finally, Hamlet did love Ophelia and various lines within the play, “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare prove thisto be true. We see numerous times that he compliments her as well as flat out says that he loves her. Even after her betraying him and her siding with her mother and uncle, the queen and king, he saw that she was not lying to him for them, but she was lying to him to help him. She did not want to see Prince Hamlet in a sever state of depression so she only lied to him to try and help him. This shows us that she cared about him as well and it is truly sad that we had to wait till her funeral, act 5, just to hear him profess his true love for her. I also believe that Hamlet as a character was a very mysterious as well as hurt individual, so William Shakespeare did not want to make him look weak by making his love for her super obvious.
- Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Exploring Literature. Ed. Frank Madden. 4th ed. New York: Longman, 2009. 539-663. Print.