There is love in Shakespeare's Hamlet, but I think it is accurate to say that it all goes wrong in some way. We know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, yet there is something always rotten with human relationships. Although much criticism focuses on Hamlet 's...
There is love in Shakespeare's Hamlet, but I think it is accurate to say that it all goes wrong in some way. We know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, yet there is something always rotten with human relationships. Although much criticism focuses on Hamlet's famous indecision, perhaps less attention is given to his intense vulnerability and how we feels wronged by everyone he trusted. The plot is kicked into motion by love: the love he has for his dead father and the need to avenge his death. Love (or lust) has also lead his mother, Gertrude, to marry Claudius soon after the death of her first husband. Hamlet sees this relationship as deeply unsettling, and he confronts her in her bedroom, showing a somewhat unhealthy interest in her sex life. Gertrude and Hamlet do seem to genuinely love each other, even if they have a conflicted relationship, and I would argue that this is the only relationship to endure throughout the play, even if they both end up dead.
Another relationship the ends badly is that of Hamlet and Ophelia. While it's clear they have a history, the details can be a little fuzzy. His treatment of her is erratic, moving from flirtatious (in the play scene) to belligerent when he tells to go to a nunnery. In fact, in this rant he basically declares war on love and marriage. Ophelia is one of the most mistreated characters in the play, and both her father and brother treat her in a rather condescending manner. Hamlet's rejection, the machinations of the king, and the death of her father lead to her madness and death.
There is, of course, no love lost between Claudius and Hamlet, yet Claudius's effect on Hamlet, aside from the obvious, is that he poisons everyone against him, including his supposed friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are enlisted to spy (not very well) on him. Like the hero of a film noir, Hamlet can trust no one and can't count on love to save him.