Prove whether or not you believe Hamlet loves Ophelia, or if she is merely a pawn in his lies and nothing else. If he loves her, why does he treat her the way he does? If not, what does his treatment of her say about him, morally? Do you believe he regrets his actions toward her, or that he is too far gone to recognize the inhumanity of how he treats her? To what extent do you blame him for his treatment of her, and to what extent do you blame other outside forces? Lastly, why do you believe this relationship is important for understanding Hamlet as a tragic protagonist? How would his life have been different if he had embraced Ophelia?

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I believe Hamlet truly does love Ophelia as much as he can do under the circumstances of his life after his father's murder. After her death, when he has absolutely nothing to gain, he seems compelled to rush forward into her grave from his hiding place at the cemetery—revealing himself...

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I believe Hamlet truly does love Ophelia as much as he can do under the circumstances of his life after his father's murder. After her death, when he has absolutely nothing to gain, he seems compelled to rush forward into her grave from his hiding place at the cemetery—revealing himself to everyone there—as though he has no control over his own actions. He then declares to Laertes, Ophelia's brother, and his own family,

I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her? (5.1.247-249)

He swears that he loved her more than tens of thousands of brothers could do, and, again, it's pretty difficult to come up with a truly plausible motive for this behavior other than overwhelming grief. He claims that he would be buried with her if he could.

Perhaps Hamlet treated Ophelia so terribly because she broke his heart. If we assume that he did, in fact, love her, then her breaking off their relationship—when she had, apparently, given him indication that she loved him too—would have wounded him greatly. Maybe he spoke to her so cruelly at times because he was angry at her, perhaps it was all to keep up his appearance of insanity, or perhaps it was because he was trying to protect her from his uncle's murderous machinations.

One reason that Hamlet is such a tragic character is that he takes so many other characters down with him, Ophelia being the most innocent of all. She was only trying to be happy, and then her father bid her destroy her relationship and her ex began (she believes) to lose his mind and treat her cruelly. Perhaps she never would have gone mad herself if it were not for the difficult position in which the men in her life put her. Hamlet in many ways seems responsible for her demise. Unfortunately, he did not really have the option to "embrace her" because she obeyed her father's commands to end that relationship. Had he tried, however, it seems likely that no one would have objected to their relationship after all. Gertrude at one point tells her,

Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet's wildness. So shall I hope your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again. (3.1.39-42)

Gertrude, at least, would not have stood in their way.

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