Do Hamlet's feelings match those of Ophelia's in Hamlet?

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Jason Lulos eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hamlet most likely does have feelings for Ophelia, but he is completely preoccupied with his plan to avenge his father. The fact that he consistently pretends to be mad supports the idea that he has feelings for her because his abusive attitude towards her could be a part of this strategy of feigned madness. So, Hamlet is preoccupied and possibly feels that he must hide his feelings to support this façade of madness since it is part of his overall scheme.

Hamlet has also become very hostile to the idea of marriage and women in general. He has transferred these feelings to all women because of his mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius. Hamlet may be preoccupied and faking anger, but I think he is also stubbornly bitter at women in general for what his mother has done. Ophelia is still in love with him. It’s hard to say if Hamlet feels this to the same intensity. Even if he does, it does not match the intensity that he has for revenge, bitterness and grief.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I am fairly confident that Hamlet has feelings for Ophelia.  Like so much with Hamlet, he is incapable of committing to her because of the other elements that preclude such a declaration.  I believe that Ophelia's feelings are probably stronger for Hamlet, but this might be due to her emotional composition.  Ophelia is depicted in a manner that reflects her willingness to be vulnerable and in a situation where her feelings towards another are not guarded, susceptible to manipulation.  In my understanding, I see one of them as too guarded (Hamlet) and the other as not guarded enough (Ophelia.)  It is because of this dynamic that their relationship plays out in the manner that it does.  Their feelings for one another are there at its base, yet I think that the conditions and emotional contingencies that help to make their relationship one where it is difficult to assess if there is a sense of love between them.

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