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Does Hamlet love Ophelia?Does Hamlet love Ophelia? Is she his "dream" or...

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eron04 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 25, 2008 at 8:33 PM via web

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Does Hamlet love Ophelia?

Does Hamlet love Ophelia? Is she his "dream" or "goal"? Why?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 25, 2008 at 10:25 PM (Answer #2)

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At Ophelia's funeral, Hamlet jumps into her grave and shouts, "I loved Ophelia!" I think we should take him at his word but he did have an odd way of showing his love. He burst into her room, frightens her and then leaves without saying a thing. He attacks her and tells her to "get to a nunnery." At the Mousetrap, a play he schedules to judge Claudius' guilt, he both teases and mocks Ophelia. Then, thinking he is killing Claudius, he accidently kills her father, Polonius. Certainly, she has a right to doubt his love. To keep of the ruse that he is mad, he doesn't console Ophelia but instead makes a joke out of what he's done with Polonius' body. Perhaps he was so caught up in his search for revenge that he forgot about Ophelia's feelings. Unfortunately for both Hamlet and Ophelia, she believes she has lost both her father and Hamlet, so she kills herself. Hamlet is left without his love, who could perhaps have given him some better guidance and smoothed the hatred between Hamlet and her brother. This would have isolated Claudius but deprived the audience of a great last scene of the play.

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted September 27, 2008 at 11:20 PM (Answer #3)

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I think Hamlet loved Ophelia in a way...Had everything been rosy in Denmark and had his father not been murdered, etc., he and Ophelia probably could have had a lovely life together.  But he didn't feel that he could really trust her.  He knew she was manipulated and used by her father, Polonius, who would give his left leg if it meant ingratiating himself to the king.  Polonius had completely control over his daughter, which meant that Hamlet felt that he could not confide his fears and concerns to her (maybe he should have anyway - maybe she would have been worthy of his trust - but then, it wouldn't have been Hamlet!).

I am sure that he felt a great deal of loss when he realized that she had drowned (and it's not conclusive in the text that she drowned herself - it could have been an accident because of her completely loss of sanity by that point - Gertrude's description does not allude to a suicide).  But he felt a much greater sense of loss at the death of his father, so I, personally, am not sure that really had a deep, mature love for her.  She definitely wasn't his "goal," as your question asked.  His goal was revenge for his father's death.

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 25, 2008 at 9:13 PM (Answer #4)

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If Hamlet had to answer this question, he would probably wander off in a very long monologue on exactly what the nature of love is.  :)  For me, the real question is "If Hamlet loved Ophelia, how deeply, and when did he stop?"  It is hard to know much about their relationship before the play; it certainly insinuates a romance, with stated emotions on Hamlet's part.  Ophelia seemed upset about his rejection of her, so she was certainly under the belief that he loved her.  His rejection was either because his sentiments for her were not deep enough to tie him to her through a very difficult time for him, or because he didn't want to taint her with "things rank and gross in nature" that he felt were all around him.  If the first, no, he didn't truly love her; if the second, his love was strong enough-even if a bit misguided and naive about the nature of female happiness-for him to act in what he might have considered a "noble" manner.

If she was his "dream", I feel that she represented all that was happy and loving before the harsh reality of conniving uncles, fickle mothers, and untimely deaths tipped his world upside down.  She was the pleasant dream of what might have been, if he hadn't been infused with cynicism and melancholy from his circumstances.

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mahii25 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 21, 2009 at 11:24 AM (Answer #5)

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hamlet love ophelia but he preference revenge first...so he forget her Love for some time...when ophelia is dead he realize that she is his love....bt it does'nt mean to say that ophelia is his goal...he is love her across the limit....its means...he is dearly Love her...bt his goal is to take a revenge to Claudius...

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zales90 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 21, 2009 at 1:08 PM (Answer #6)

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Hamlet loved Ophelia- but he was so damaged and jacked up himself. He could let himself trust her and be completely venerable with her. He just choose not to give her a chance to hurt him, and at the funeral he regretted it.

I think it is like those guys and girls who come from a troubled past so now, they don't let anyone in( Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting).

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lizadoll | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 24, 2011 at 9:52 AM (Answer #8)

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I do believe Hamlet loved Ophelia. But I am wondering if anyone feels the same way about Act II Scene I, when Ophelia comes to Polonius terrified at the situation that just occured between Hamlet and her (when he comes into her room disheveled and wildly unkept and that whole "mad" scene ensues). To me, I felt as if this was when he was making his first move to plant the seed of his maddness into the minds of the other characters. He knew that Ophelia would tell her father and from there he would tell Claudius. However, I feel as if this was Hamlet's final time with Ophelia where he could express his love for her. I feel as if behind his craziness there was a hidden sincerity, for instance, " [h]e falls to such perusal of my face As he would draw it [...] he rais'd a sigh so piteous and profound As it did seem to shatter all his bulk". To me this just seems so heartfelt, as if he is finally resigning his fate, that even though he loves her, he loves revenge more, or rather it is his duty in life to fufill his father's revenge and so he must give up on it. Does anyone else see this scene with this significance behind it??

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