In "Hamlet" consider whether or not Hamlet truly loves Ophelia.With specific reference to the text.

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe that he really does, but just puts on a show that he doesn't, in order to throw people off.  Plus, he is reeling from the show of seeming infidelity from his mother and her "o'er-hasty marriage" to his uncle.  So, he might need a break in order to get over feeling bitter about women for a while.  Even Hamlet himself, in the course of the play, contradicts himself on this matter.  When Ophelia speaks to him early on, to give him his love tokens back, he tells her, "I loved you not"(III.i.120) right after telling her that "I loved you once" (III.i.116).  From this we can gather that he did love her at one time, but is claiming to not love her now.  It is hard to know whether to believe him though, since he potentially knows that her father, and the king and queen are listening in on this conversation.  The entire thing could be staged for their benefit, to throw them off.

But then, at Ophelia's grave, Hamlet declares,

"I loved Ophelia:  forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum" (V.i.292-4).

Here he claims to love her 40 times more than her brother does.  I tend to believe him more here; he is reacting freshly to her unexpected death.  Which makes it all the more tragic that he so harshly rejected her, contributing to her road to madness and death.  So, take what evidence you want from the play, but I feel that at his core, Hamlet truly did love Ophelia, even if he didn't want to.  His mourning at her grave seems sincere and intense, and that is what I am going to go with.  Good luck!