Does Hamlet love Ophelia or not? Does Hamlet love Ophelia or not? Is he mad or not?

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As the variety of answers to these two questions below demonstrate, there is no definite answer to either of them, and directors in the theatre, as well as readers of the play, have made convincing arguments in both directions.

Hamlet writes to Ophelia, that though she could doubt that 'the stars are fire' or that the 'sun doth move', she should never doubt that he loves her: and Ophelia later corroborates his claim by admitting that he made her believe that he loved her. But does he love her now?

Well, the place to look is the nunnery scene (Act 3, Scene 1) where Ophelia gives him some love-tokens (she calls them 'remembrances' - are they letters? jewellery?) back. Is he simply hurt and upset when he tells her he doesn't love her? Or does he really mean it? You can argue both ways.

As for Hamlet's madness, he warns his friends in Act 1, Scene 5, that

I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on

'Antic' means 'mad', and 'meet' means 'appropriate': so might we read Hamlet's 'madness' as completely 'pretend'? Certainly yes when he is mocking Polonius, with his 'words, words, words' - but what about when he murders Polonius? Are these the actions of a genuine madman? When he apologises to Laertes at shortly before their fight, it is 'Hamlet's madness' which Hamlet blames for Polonius' death. But is this just an excuse, another pretence?

You could - in both cases - convincingly argue both ways.

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A little, and a little. ;-)By that I mean, he was very fond of her before this all happened. He might have thought it was love, and it was possible that it would turn into love…but it wasn't really love yet, or else he would have trusted her more (even if it cost him).Is he mad? He's so upset by loss, grief, and the need for revenge that he's a bit off-balance, but he's not really crazy. Angry, and under pressure, even haunted, but not crazy.

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