Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Hamlet book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, what is the extent of Hamlet's and Ophelia's relationship?   William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Expert Answers info

mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

bookM.A. from The University of Alabama

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia is complicated by Hamlet's relationship to his mother and by hers with her father. In Act III after Ophelia has been instructed by Polonius, her father to disassociate herself from Hamlet, she greets Hamlet, telling him she has "remembrances" of his to return to him.  Suspecting that she is under the influence of her father, Hamlet asks, "Are you fair?" meaning "Are you being honest?" for he senses subterfuge.  Then, in disgust for this deceit, Hamlet denies having given anything to her, denying that he ever loved her knowing that Polonius listens to their conversation.

Further, Hamlet harbors ill feelings towards Ophelia for the licentious act of his mother's having married Claudius , the brother of his father.  This projection of one known experience onto another is know in psychology, as "supposition of the similitude." Now he generalizes about women, thinking Ophelia, too, is unchaste.  This is why he insults her so during the performance...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 1,002 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write4,119 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial