What are Hamlet's and Laertes's relationships with Ophelia?

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Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia is somewhat dysfunctional, to say the least. Although Polonius has attributed Hamlet's apparent madness to feelings of lovesickness for his daughter, in actual fact, Hamlet doesn't really seem to be in love with Ophelia at all.

Witness his unhinged outburst against her—ordering her to go off to a convent so that she won't be able to have any children that will grow up to be sinners like her. (Additionally, Ophelia's "sin," such as it is, is to be a woman.) One gets the impression that, for Hamlet, Ophelia was nothing more than a sexual conquest; when the supposedly subordinate partner in this relationship seemingly wants to break free, however, Hamlet is enraged. Yet another part of his subjective world has come crashing down about his ears. First it was the murder of his father, and now this. Hamlet's finding it all rather too hard to handle, hence the unpleasant outburst.

Later on, after Ophelia has committed suicide, Hamlet expresses grief by her...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 551 words.)

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